As of 2012, car and deer collisions have caused an average of 200 deaths and cost an estimated $4 billion every year in the US – and the chances of hitting one can increase depending on what state you live in. To make sure you aren’t another statistic, there are a few important ways to avoid hitting a deer that you should be familiar with, as these tips could save your life.
- Check for signs
This is one of the most obvious ways to prevent a collision with deer. Towns or highway departments will usually post these signs for a reason: that the area has high deer activity and perhaps car-deer collisions have occurred multiple times at those spots. These signs will usually appear in parks, forests, or waterway areas. Make sure to slow down and be alert.
- Use high beams
Another quick fix to avoiding a car-deer accident is to simply turn your headlights on whenever you are the only car on the road. High beams will afford a larger field of vision so you can prepare ahead of time to stop if there is a deer in or on the side of the road. Also pay attention to oncoming traffic headlights; a quick couple flicks of the high beams from an oncoming vehicle means to watch out ahead for deer.
- Beware of the time
Deer are shy creatures who, like humans, are often quite predictable when it comes to forming a routine or schedule. These animals love the hours around sunrise and sunset to graze – and it is these hours when it is hardest for us to adjust our eyes to the light. Always be on the lookout or plan your trip for a different time of day.
- Know when to use the horn
Although deer, moose, and other large forest animals are generally timid and will bolt at the slightest sign of people, they may become terrified when they see your approaching vehicle and stay firmly planted in the middle of the road. Stop the car (do not swerve into the opposite lane if you can help it) and wait a few seconds to see if they will move. Flick your lights on and off. As a last resort, use the horn in short bursts. Using a horn could cause a deer to become aggressive depending on the season.
- When there’s one, there’s more
Perhaps not so much the case for moose, this is almost always the case when you see a deer. One deer may be in the middle of the road, but the others could be hiding out along the shoulder waiting to follow their leader. After the first one has crossed, check both sides of the road with your high beams on to make sure there aren’t any more.
In the event that you do hit a deer, remembering to be a defensive driver, go the speed limit, and wearing your seat belt could end up preventing serious injury to both your car and you or your passengers. Safe travels!