Hitting a deer while driving can be shocking. Your adrenaline will be pumping. You're likely concerned about the animal and the damage to your vehicle and passengers. Try to stay calm and follow these steps.
What to Do if You Hit a Deer
1. Don't Approach the Deer
No matter what, do not approach the deer. Deers are powerful animals with sharp hooves that can hurt you. The risk is higher when they are scared and wounded.
2. Move Your Car to a Safe Place
The first thing you should do, if possible, is to move your car to the side of the road where it won't be hit by other vehicles. If you can't move your car, ensure you and all your passengers are out of the way of traffic.
3. Turn on Hazard Lights
Turn on your vehicle's hazard lights to alert other drivers of a problem and increase your car's visibility.
4. Check for Injuries
Take note of any injuries you or your passengers have sustained and their level of severity. Will you need emergency medical help?
5. Call Emergency Services
Call the police to report the incident and notify them that you hit a deer. If the animal is still on the road, be sure to let them know so they can send the right people to remove it. Also, let them know if you need an ambulance.
6. Inspect Your Vehicle
Next, inspect your vehicle to see what damage it has incurred. Assess if it will be safe to drive or if you'll need to call a towing service.
7. Document the Incident
Once the incident is reported to the police, document what has happened. Take pictures/videos of the deer if possible along with the damage to you and/or your vehicle.
8. Report the Incident to Your Insurance
Next, you'll want to call your insurance company to report the accident. You can file a comprehensive claim at a later time but should report the incident immediately.
When and Where Are You Most Likely to Hit a Deer?
Always keep an eye out for the diamond-shaped yellow caution signs that warn of animal crossings. You are most likely to encounter a deer when you are driving near mountains and forested habitats. Further, they are most active during mating season which runs from October to January, and they often move around dusk and dawn.
How to Avoid Hitting a Deer
What are the best ways to avoid hitting a deer? First, keep your full attention on the road so you will see the deer as early as possible, giving you more time to react. If you see one, brake but don't swerve. Give the deer plenty of space and keep in mind that they often travel in herds. You can also honk to scare it away. Also, if you have multiple lane options, driving in the center lane will give you the most reaction time.
Other Animals to Look Out For
While deer are the most commonly hit animal on the road in most U.S. states, other animals to look out for include:
Additionally, if you're in an area near livestock such as cattle, be very careful of wanderers that may make their way to the road.
Keep Your Driving Skills Sharp
Accidents happen. However, you can help to prevent them (and possibly save on your insurance) by taking an online defensive driving course with DriversEd.com. Sharpen up your skills when it fits into your schedule, save money, and stay safer while out on the road.
Learn more about the online adult driver's ed course!