It’s that time of year. Crunching leaves, early darkness, and mating season…for the deer, that is. This beautiful season comes with an increased risk of hitting a deer with your vehicle, partially due to decreased visibility on cold late fall and early winter nights and also because of deer seeking mates. In fact the chance of hitting deer doubles during mating season.
And the impacts of these collisions are significant. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that deer collisions cause over $1 billion in vehicle damage, more than 10,000 injuries, and around 150 driver/passenger deaths each year.
Being aware to avoid this type of collision is half the battle. The other half is knowing what to do if you can’t avoid a collision with a deer.
AVOID THE COLLISION
- Slow down. Driving through wooded areas, particularly in the low light of dusk or dawn, is the time to take most care. Stopping time decreases when your speed is lower. Even a few seconds can make the difference in a collision.
- Watch out for Bambi AND friends. Deer are social and often travel together. When you see one, look out for more. Deer crossing signs are posted because those are areas where deer cross. Pay attention to them.
- Use your safety equipment. Seat belts for car drivers/passengers and helmets for motorcyclists should be used at all times. The IIHS identifies this as the best defense.
- Be a good driver. Scan the road for hazards and avoid distractions such as electronic devices or eating and drinking.
IF YOU CAN’T AVOID THE COLLISION
- Crash carefully. Brake to slow down as quickly as possible but avoid swerving or losing control of your vehicle, which may lead to a worse accident.
- Secure yourself and your vehicle. If possible, move your car to the side of the road and turn on your hazards or other lights. Being seen by traffic is critical to avoid engaging in a secondary collision. Remember that passing drivers may not be able to see you well so keep a safe distance from the road if you leave your car. Beware of an injured animal. If a frightened deer could not run away from the scene, they could still be dangerous to approach. Do not drive your vehicle away from the scene if there is any visible damage.
- Call the police. The authorities will take care to deal with any threat to other drivers and will help you fill out an official report. This will be important when you make an insurance claim.
- Take pictures. Safely documenting the scene of the accident and getting contact information from witnesses will be helpful in processing your claim.
- Call your Compass Insurance Agent. We’ll remind you of all of these steps in case you don’t think of them in the heat of the moment and we’ll walk you through the process of making a claim.