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Save Your Car (and the Deer)

Save Your Car (and the Deer)

Deer may seem innocent and peaceful when you spot them on a stroll through the park, but to drivers they can be anything but. According to the Insurance Information Institute, deer-vehicle collisions more than double during deer season – October through December. During those months when the deer are out in force, it’s best to practice extreme caution when driving.

How to Avoid Hitting a Deer

  • Know their patterns. Around sunset to sunrise, deer will venture out. Deer may live in forested areas, but they’ll venture into agricultural areas to look for food and water. Think about your local geography and avoid roads between forests and farmland. Deer crossing signs will warn you of the areas with the highest deer concentration.

  • Use your high beams. As long as there’s no other traffic on the road, your high beam headlights will be an asset. Watch for the illuminated eyes of deer on the side of the road.

  • If you see one, expect more. Deer often travel with their families. As soon as you see one deer, slow down: others are around, too.

  • Slow down and use your horn. The Insurance Information Institute states that one long blast of your horn will scare the deer away. You should still slow down, though, because you never know which way the deer will run. Some victims of deer accidents report that the deer jumped into their car.

  • Stay in your lane. Swerving into another lane can cause a serious accident.

  • Protect yourself. It’s always a good idea to wear a seatbelt when in a car or a helmet when on a motorcycle.

What to Do if You Do Hit a Deer

Like any wild animal, deer can be unpredictable. You may still get in an accident with one. If you do, here’s how to respond:

  1. Firmly apply your brakes and come to a controlled stop. Don’t allow your car to swerve into another lane or off the road.

  2. Move your car to safety and turn on your hazard lights.

  3. Leave the deer alone. Don’t try to move it out of the road. If it’s still alive, it could injure you.

  4. Call 9-1-1. File an accident report with the police. They’ll contact the right people to take care of the deer.

  5. Assess your vehicle for damage before driving away. If it isn’t safe to drive, contact Roadside Assistance for an emergency tow.

  6. File a claim with your insurance company if your car has been damaged.

How Insurance Responds to a Deer Collision

Hitting an animal with your car would be covered under your comprehensive (other than collision) coverage. Typically, comprehensive insurance protects you for damage to your car from events that are out of your control, such as fire, theft, hail, or a fallen tree branch. This also includes a collision with a deer.

Do Deer Whistles Work?

Many drivers attach deer whistles to their cars in the hope that they’ll deter deer from entering the road. Deer whistles are meant to notify deer of oncoming vehicles by emitting an ultrasonic sound outside of humans’ auditory range. However, research suggests that even when the deer whistles work as advertised, they have little effect on deer. There can be many reasons for this, but according to those researchers, some likely reasons are:

  • Deer don’t have enough time to react;

  • Deer won’t necessarily respond to the alarm by avoiding the road; and

  • Deer might not feel threatened by the sound.

Similarly, there is little evidence that reflectors or deer fences work. To avoid deer collisions, it may be better to practice defensive driving techniques instead.

NJM has been committed to safety for over a century. With NJM Auto Insurance, you receive among the best customer service in the country. When you bundle your auto and homeowners policies, you can save on your insurance premium. Get a quote today.

The information contained in this article should not be construed as professional advice, and is not intended to replace official sources. Other resources linked from these pages are maintained by independent providers; therefore, NJM cannot guarantee their accuracy.