With the number of deer seen on the side of the highway this time of year, it’s getting hard to believe that hunters have to work that hard to find them in the woods. But in the Midwest, October through December is when deer become more active and visible on highways and roadways. And it is during this time that automobile collisions with deer begin to significantly increase. In Wisconsin alone, the Department of Transportation (DOT) reported 18,312 deer versus motor vehicle crashes in 2014.
Drivers, especially the new and inexperienced, must be aware of the increased danger that deer can pose to motorists during this high travel time of year. At any speed, hitting a deer can result in the serious injury or even death of a driver or passengers. Motorcyclists should be especially careful as riders were involved in eight of the 10 fatal deer versus motor vehicle crashes in Wisconsin last year.
When a deer leaps in front of your vehicle, there’s often little that you can do to prevent it. However, the automobile accident attorneys at Hupy and Abraham point out that there are a few tips that may minimize the risks of a dangerous and costly collision:
- Be especially watchful at dusk and dawn when deer are more active and may be feeding on grass along the road. As the sun sets, deer become harder to see and headlights can disorient them and cause them to run in front of, or into, your vehicle.
- Pay attention to “deer crossing” signs. The signs indicate a significant rate and pattern of accidents in that location over time. Be especially watchful in areas near woods, water or near newly installed game fences as well.
- If you see one deer, there are probably more nearby as they typically travel in single file groups. If one deer crosses, slow down and anticipate another.
- Drive slower at night, giving yourself time to see a deer in your headlights. Use high beams for greater visibility whenever it’s safe to do so. You can also lower the brightness of your dashboard lights to make it easier to see the road.
- If a collision with a deer is imminent, do not swerve or attempt to miss the deer. Take your foot off the accelerator and brake lightly, keeping a firm hold on the steering wheel while keeping the vehicle straight. Insurance statistics show that more car damage and serious injuries occur when drivers attempt to swerve and instead collide with guardrails or other vehicles.
- Always wear a seatbelt. Most fatalities in collisions with deer are the result of people not wearing a seatbelt.