Oh, deer! Tips to avoid collisions


Deer activity increases in fall and early winter.


Every year across the country, deer-vehicle accidents account for billions of dollars in vehicle damage, thousands of injuries and hundreds of fatalities.

These tips can help you avoid a collision with a deer and stay safe while on the road.

Be aware:

  • Dawn, dusk and night are the times you are most likely to encounter deer in the roadway.
  • The annual deer breeding season, also known as the rut, occurs mainly from October through December, but also can extend into January for some southern states.
  • Deer can be very active and unpredictable at these times while they are searching for mates.
  • Use extreme caution at these times of the day and year or when you’re in a location conducive to deer activity.
  • Country roads, farmland and heavily wooded areas are known for high deer populations, but it’s also not uncommon to encounter deer in suburban or urban areas.
  • Deer are herd animals. If you see one, more deer are likely to follow.
  • Headlights won’t necessarily scare deer. Sometimes they cause deer to stop in their tracks and on the road.
  • Don’t rely on vehicle-mounted whistles or reflectors designed to keep deer away from your vehicle. Studies show they are not effective.

Tips that can help you stay safe:

  • Always wear your seatbelt.
  • Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings.
  • Drive at or below the speed limit when in areas with large deer populations.
  • Use high-beam headlights when it is safe to do so in order to enhance your visibility.
  • Be aware of Deer Crossing signs. These signs are strategically placed in areas frequently used by deer to cross the road.
  • Reduce speed in areas with high deer traffic, as well as situations where terrain, weather, darkness or other conditions impair your ability to see and react to deer in or near the roadway.
  • Slow down or stop if it’s safe to do so as you approach deer in the road or on the roadside.
  • Don’t swerve your vehicle to avoid hitting a deer. This could cause you to lose control and hit another vehicle or object.

If you hit a deer: 

  • Contact the local emergency services if anyone is injured.
  • Notify the local law enforcement agency of the accident.
  • Report the accident to your insurance agent or insurance company as soon as possible.
  • Never attempt to approach the deer. Deer are unpredictable wild animals. When injured, they could cause personal harm to you or run back into the roadway in front of traffic, causing another accident.
Additional Resources

4 questions to ask your agent about auto insurance

In a car accident? Here’s what to do

This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article. Contact your local, independent insurance agent for coverage advice and loss control services.

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