Of all twelve months of the year, NOVEMBER has the highest incidence of car collisions with deer. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says there are about 1 million car accidents with deer each year that kill 200 Americans, cause more than 10,000 personal injuries and result in $1 billion in vehicle damage. Here is some helpful information that just might protect you from having one of these dangerous encounters:
Time and Place
- Dawn and dusk are the most likely times you’ll encounter a deer because they are more active then. So, that means they are most active during commute times.
- Fall is mating season; the peak period is from late October through December. (That’s why November has the highest incidence of collisions.) Deer are much more active during this time.
- It seems we see them all around more and more — even right in the center of town — but you’re most likely to encounter them in more heavily wooded areas.
- Remember, female deer are herd animals. If you see one, you can pretty much count on the fact that there are others.
- The most important thing you can do is SLOW DOWN. Don’t speed, and if you’re in a high deer population area, drive below the speed limit. If you do, you have more chance to brake if a deer does bolt into your path.
- Observe your surroundings: watch the sides of the road (both sides; there is evidence that drivers tend to watch the passenger side of the road more. Obviously, deer can bolt from either side of the road.)
- If you’re driving at night:
- Use your high beams whenever it’s safe (not when there are cars coming in the other direction).
- Keep your windshield clean so you have the best visibility possible.
- If it’s a 3-lane highway, drive in the center lane.
- If you see the reflection of eyes from your headlights, immediately slow down. Deer are very unpredictable. Don’t count on them moving away from the road. Important: if you are driving in moose territory it’s unlikely you’ll see eye reflection. They can be six feet tall so your headlights won’t reach that high. (Some sources claim moose eyes simply don’t reflect light.)
- Use your flashers or a headlight signal plus your horn to warn other drivers when you’ve spotted deer. And of course, if you see other cars behaving in that manner – slow down. It’s likely there are deer up ahead.
- If the deer stops in the middle of the road (remember, they are unpredictable) do not attempt to drive around the deer. Blow your horn (short bursts), put on your hazard lights, and wait for the animal to move.
- When you see road signs showing a deer graphic or the words “Deer Crossing” pay attention; they are there for a reason. They’ve been placed in areas where deer are known to cross the road with frequency.
- We shouldn’t have to include this because (a) it makes common sense and (b) it’s the law…but here it is anyway: wear your seat belt.
- Don’t rely on things like deer whistles, reflectors, or deer fences; they have not been proven to reduce deer-car collisions.
If a collision is unavoidable
- NEVER swerve to avoid a deer. Hitting another car or hitting a tree or pole is very likely to cause more damage and more injury than hitting the deer.
- Contact emergency services if anyone is injured, or call police. You’ll want a police report.
- When you stop…put your emergency flashers on. Use flares and/or triangles if you have them.
- Don’t go near the animal. You may not be able to tell if it is dead. If it is still alive, it’s injured, in pain, and frightened. It could still kick or gore you.
- And of course, when you get home…make sure you contact your Cushman Insurance Group agent.
Your Insurance Coverage
While you may think it is your Collision Coverage that will cover the costs to repair damage to your vehicle, it is actually the Comprehensive Coverage that provides protection for a covered loss due to a collision with an animal.
Also, we are often asked by clients if they will get a surcharge if they hit a deer. The answer : they will not. A collision with a deer is not considered an at-fault accident. Since it is covered by comprehensive coverage as opposed to collision coverage, a surcharge cannot be issued against the driver.
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