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Tips for Avoiding Car Crashes with Deer

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Tips for Avoiding Car Crashes with Deer

A deer standing next to a traffic sign.

Deer rarely travel alone: If you see a deer near the roadway or crossing in front of you, there’s a good chance that others are nearby. It’s a good idea to reduce your speed and keep your eyes peeled for more deer leaping into the road ahead.

Deer move the most at dawn and dusk: Unfortunately, that’s exactly when visibility is the worst for drivers. And we are now in the midst of mating season for deer (October through December) when they are most active. Since we are more likely to be on the road after the sun sets this time of year, go a little slower, especially near wooded areas.

Look for deer crossing signs: The yellow diamond-shaped signs with the leaping deer pictured on them are placed in areas where deer are often seen. Your headlights will cause a bright reflection in the eyes of a deer, making it easier to spot them in the distance. If there’s no oncoming traffic, use your high beams at night. Once again, if you see a deer crossing sign, slow down and stay alert.

Stick to the center lane: when you travel on multi-lane roads (as long as local laws permit it), to increase visibility from the side of the road. Driving in the center lane gives deer lots of space; Should your approaching vehicle startle the deer, causing them to run into your path, you’ll have a little more time to react.

Use your horn: To scare deer out of the road ahead, give one long blast of your car’s horn. While the sound of a carn horn has proven effective at scaring deer away, studies have shown that most hood whistles and other devices designed to scare off deer are ineffective at minimizing accidents.

Stay the course, don’t swerve: It’s human nature to try to avoid hitting something that suddenly appears in the path of your vehicle. If a deer (or other wildlife) run into the road in front of you, don’t brake suddenly or swerve. By doing so, you can create a new hazard by hitting a tree or another car. Plus, since deer are so unpredictable, you could swerve only to wind up heading directly into their changed path.


Keep in mind that hitting a deer falls under comprehensive coverage, not collision (at fault) coverage. Most companies do not charge for comprehensive claims. However, if you swerve to miss a deer and hit a guardrail or another car, you may be found to be at fault due to the act of swerving, and this could result in a surcharge. So that’s one more reason to avoid swerving.

If you do hit a deer, pull over to the side of the road as soon as it is safe to do so, and put on your hazard lights. Stay in the vehicle and avoid the temptation to approach the deer, which could be injured, frightened, and dangerous. If there are injuries involved, call emergency services. If there’s property damage, call the local police, especially if the deer is in a hazardous spot on the road. Finally, when it is safe to exit the vehicle, take photos of the damage and contact your auto insurance company to report the accident.

To be covered in the event of an animal accident, you’ll need comprehensive coverage included in your auto insurance. For a free quote, call 1-888-OK-GLENN or 609-641-3000.


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