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Safe Fall Driving: How to Avoid a Deer and What to Do if You Can’t

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Deer season is almost here; stay safe this fall with some practical strategies
Photo: Dwight Burdette

One-point-five million deer-vehicle collisions happen each year, according to an estimate from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Car incidents involving deer peak during deer breeding season, which runs from October through early January. Although autumn isn’t here yet, what better time than now to equip yourself with some safety tips?

Know Deer Habits

Deer are primarily nocturnal animals. So, dawn or dusk are the most likely times of day when a deer might cross the road. Be on your guard especially during 5 – 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. – 12 a.m., when commuting to work or driving home from a night out.

Deer are also pack animals. If you see one, there’s usually more nearby. If you see one about to cross the street, look around for more to make sure you avoid crashing into any of its buddies.

buckle up for safety

Buckle up!
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Safety Precautions

Wear your seatbelt. Schaefer Insurance claims that 60% of animal collisions involve seatbelt-less drivers. Don’t be a statistic!

Drive slowly. This might sound like a no-brainer when driving in early morning or night, but so many people speed. Be aware of speed limits signs. Since speed limit signs are less visible in the dark, a good rule of thumb is to make sure you can stop within the distance your headlights are illuminating.


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Put on the brakes
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When You Can’t Avoid a Collision

If you do happen to hit a deer, brake firmly as soon as you see the deer crossing the road. The goal is to avoid the collision altogether. But even if braking doesn’t prevent the impact, it will reduce the severity of the impact by minimizing the speed at which you hit the deer.

When you know you can’t avoid a collision, avoid swerving off the road or into another lane. This will only maximize the harm to you and your vehicle.

What to Do in the Aftermath

If your car is disabled, quickly get out and move to the side of the road. Don’t go up to the injured deer if it is still moving; keep your distance.

If your car is damaged but you can still move it off to the side of the road, do so. This will help keep other drivers safe if they come upon the wreck site.


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cell phone call the police

Keep calm and call the police and your insurance agent.
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Notify the Police and Call Insurance

Call the police to inform them of the collision. A deer in the road poses a potential hazard to other drivers.

If safety permits, take pictures of the roadway, your car’s damages, and any injuries from the collision. If there were other people around to witness the event, write down their account as well as their contact information. Documenting these details will help you file a claim with your car insurance company.

Call your insurance agent to report the claim. Do this as soon as you safely can, to get the claim process going as soon as possible.

tow truck towing

Local towing services exist for a reason
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Don’t be Afraid to Call for a Tow

If your vehicle was damaged but appears drivable, do a double-check to make sure. Loose parts, damaged tires, fluid leaks, or broken lights are all signs that you should just call a tow truck.

We hope these tips will help you to navigate fall roads safely and prevent deer collisions. Even if you end up hitting one, these strategies will keep you as safe as possible and minimize potential damages to your vehicle.

Sources: Insurance Information Institute, Schaefer Insurance, driversed.com, State Farm Insurance