You’re driving on a long road trip, it’s getting late and the sun it starting to set. You’ve been driving through the woods for a little while now and you’re getting a bit tired. Suddenly you see your headlights reflect off the eyes of a deer in the road in front of you! What do you do?
The correct thing to do is to drive straight and slow down as quickly and safely as possible. Opposite of some common beliefs, swerving increases the danger of the whole situation and accelerating makes any crash significantly worse.
Hopefully that’s enough to prevent an accident from happening, but over 247,000 times a year it isn’t. You need to know what to do if you end up in an animal related accident. As with any accident the first priority is safety.
- Check on everyone in the car
- Turn on your warning lights
- Get your car off the road if possible
- Put out flares if you have them to warn other drivers to be careful
- If anyone is injured call 911 immediately
At this point you need to call the authorities, in many states it’s illegal to drive away from an animal related accident. From this point on, follow the same procedures we laid out in our “Car Insurance Claims 101” post.
The question you should be asking at this point is whether or not your insurance covers the collision with the deer. The answer is: it depends. You should talk to your insurance company about what type of insurance covers an accident where nobody is at fault. Insurance companies will offer “Comprehensive Insurance” which covers these types of accidents. If you live in an area where an accident like this may occur, it’s worth looking into what your insurance provider’s Comprehensive Insurance plan is.
The average deer-car collision costs $2,800 in repairs, not to mention the time and trauma associated with an accident. As with anything bad, prevention is the best solution. But how do you prevent hitting a deer? They seem to come from nowhere! There are a few things you can do and look out for to give yourself the best odds to avoid a deer and also to avoid hitting a deer when you do see one.
- Deer are nocturnal, they come out during dusk and dawn. Pay close attention during these times!
- When there is no oncoming traffic, have your headlights on their brightest setting. This will allow you to see further ahead of you and see the reflection off the deer more easily.
- Don’t speed! Everyone knows this one, but many people speed anyway. When you’re driving for a long time and in an area with lower speed limits, this is critical. The speed limits are lower in order to give you more time to react to a potential animal collision.
- Don’t drive distracted! Another one everyone knows. During these high risk times, make especially sure you’re paying attention to the road. Don’t have your phone out or touch your radio.
Getting into a collision with a deer is a serious risk. It happens 247,000 times a year, causing an estimated 200 deaths per year. When you’re driving, please be careful and aware of your surroundings in order to prevent more of these accidents.