What Drivers Need to Know to Stay Protected from Deer Collisions
Safe driving is a must when deer are plentiful. During the spring and fall months of the year, it is common to see more deer on the road. Deer are difficult to see when it is dark, and they often dart out in front of vehicles at the last second. The vehicle body damage caused by hitting a deer can be very costly. One research finding showed that the average cost of deer collision damage was nearly $4,000. The likelihood of running into a deer is higher when there is water or a forested area nearby. However, deer are also common in brush and plains, so drivers everywhere should be vigilant and take steps to prevent accidents.
Research shows that American drivers are three percent more likely to hit a deer in the following year than they were last year. During fall and spring, deer are much more common to see on the roads. This is due to fall breeding and plentiful food during spring months. These animals are most active around sunrise and sunset, which are both times when it is especially difficult to see well on the road.
Experts recommend all drivers verify accident damage coverage on their insurance policies. Damages due to hitting deer are typically covered on a comprehensive policy and not a collision policy, so it is important to know this before setting out on the road. If an accident does occur because of a deer, covered drivers should contact their agents immediately. Starting a claim in a timely manner is very important. When a deer collision happens, keep the following considerations in mind:
- If a deer that has been hit is blocking the road and creating a hazard, call local law enforcement immediately to report it.
- Always keep a safe distance from a deer after hitting it. If the animal is not dead, it may attack and has very sharp hooves.
In some cases, a deer collision may be unavoidable. However, many collisions happen when people are not taking all of the necessary precautions. The following tips should be remembered and practiced when driving:
- Always wear a safety belt, and stay alert and aware of sensible speeds based on current driving conditions.
- Never depend completely on deer whistles, reflectors, fences or detection devices.
- Always use high-beam headlights at night when there is no oncoming traffic, because these lights will hit the reflective part of a deer's eyes.
- Watch closely for silhouettes of deer or their reflective eyes on the roadsides.
- When a deer is spotted on the roadside or in the middle of the road, brake firmly but do not swerve into another lane. It is less risky to hit a deer at a slower speed than to run into another vehicle or lose control of the automobile and roll it.
- Keep in mind that when one deer is sighted, it is very likely there are more nearby.
- Do not try to navigate around a deer in the middle of the road. If possible, pull to the side of the road, put the emergency flashing lights on and wait for it to cross.
While defensive driving is a good habit to practice at all times, it is especially important when deer are thick in the spring and fall. To learn more about adequate coverage or to review a policy, discuss concerns with an agent.
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