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Reduce Your Risk of a Deer-Auto Accident

As the days get shorter this time of year, your chance of deer-vehicle collisions jumps significantly – nearly half of all vehicle accidents involving deer occur from October to December. Deer pose more of a danger to drivers than you might think: more than 1.5 million deer-vehicle accidents occur on U.S. roadways yearly, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

While there’s no way to fully prevent an accident with a deer, there are many ways to minimize your risk. The first one is obvious: Wear your seat belt at all times and drive at a safe speed. Also do the following:

Keep your vehicle glass clean to help reduce sun glare and to improve vision at night.

Stay focused. Keep your eyes moving, watching from left to right and far in front of you. Be especially alert in areas with a large deer population or where there are deer-crossing signs. Deer-crossing signs indicate areas where deer trails cross roadways.

Avoid driving between dusk and dawn when possible, as that’s when most deer-vehicle accidents occur. Deer tend to be more active during the early morning and late afternoon hours.

Try to find alternate routes of travel away from heavily wooded areas, where deer tend to be more congregated.

Use your high-beam lights at night when there is no oncoming traffic. The high beams will illuminate the eyes of deer on or near a roadway. Watch for the reflection of deer eyes and for deer silhouettes on the shoulder of the road. High-beam headlights will not necessarily frighten or deter deer, but will allow you to better see the animal.

Resist the urge to blink or flash your headlights – this may startle deer and cause them to move.

Try to look far down the road and scan the roadsides, especially when driving by adjacent fields and heavily wooded areas. Deer travel in groups, so if you see one deer, there are likely more nearby. Early detection and driving at a speed that gives you time to react is paramount.

Don’t stop or pull over to observe deer. This can be dangerous and can expose your vehicle to traffic approaching from behind. It is best to pass the deer safely and move on, without disrupting traffic.

Slow down, but don’t swerve, if you spot a deer on the road. Swerving can cause you to lose control of your vehicle and may lead to a larger accident with a tree or other object. If a collision with a deer can’t be avoided, it may be safer to brush the animal at an angle while maintaining control of your vehicle.

Deer sightings can be scary and surprising when you’re driving – there’s no doubt about it – but the best way to keep you and your passengers safe is to remain calm and use common sense.

© 2023 GuideOne Insurance. GuideOne® is the registered trademark of the GuideOne Insurance Company. All rights reserved. This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice, nor are any suggested checklists or action plans intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. You are encouraged to retain your own expert consultants and legal advisors in order to develop a risk management plan specific to your own activities.