You know all about the dangers of texting and driving. You come to a complete stop at every stop sign. You always check your blind spot, you obey the speed limits, and you have a pretty awesome driving record. But guess what? Deer don’t follow traffic rules. According to the Insurance Information Institute, there are more than 1.5 million deer-vehicle collisions each year, resulting in 150 occupant deaths, tens of thousands of injuries, and over $1 billion in vehicle damage. During deer migration and mating season, which generally runs from October through December, there is a dramatic increase in the movement of deer populations and this means you’re more likely to cross paths with a deer while you’re driving.
So how can you avoid hitting a deer?
- Use extra caution during peak deer hours. Deer are most likely to be on the move around sunrise and sunset, especially during their migration and mating season and in areas marked with the reflective yellow diamond deer signs. Try not to put your brain on cruise control when you drive during these times and through these areas. Stay focused and attentive, so you can react quickly if a deer emerges.
- Don’t freak out. Apply your brakes quickly and firmly, and don’t swerve your vehicle. Yanking your steering wheel could end up causing a much bigger accident.
- If you see one deer, slow down! Deer are pack animals, so if you see one deer, there are probably more of his bushy-tailed friends nearby. Reduce your speed or come to a complete stop to make sure the road is clear before proceeding. (A complete stop isn’t advised unless you’re on a back road with little to no traffic.)
- Honk loudly. If you see deer in your vicinity, a loud honk could scare them away from the roadway. At the very least, they’ll stop in their tracks. Lay on the horn for a couple of seconds and then continue to drive slowly.
- Stay center. If you’re driving on a road with multiple lanes, stay towards the middle of the road (but still within your lane). This will give you more time to react if a deer steps out onto the roadway.
Did you know? Your odds of hitting a deer double between October and December and if you live in West Virginia, you better really be on the lookout for deer! The odds of a collision with a deer in West Virginia are 1 in 41. The state has held the top spot when it comes to deer and car collisions for the last 10 years in a row.
And how should you handle it if you hit a deer?
- Pull over and put your hazard lights on. Try to get your vehicle into the safest place possible. Your hazard lights will help other motorists see you, helping to ensure that a small accident doesn’t become a larger one.
- Stay away from the animal. Even if you’re a massive animal lover, don’t approach an injured deer. They may be confused, frightened, and dangerous.
- Call the police. You’ll need to file a report for any damaged property caused by the collision. Additionally, it’s important to alert officials if the deer is in the roadway or potentially endangering other drivers. Call emergency services if you or a passenger has been injured.
- Photograph any damage. This, along with any police reports filed, will help you immensely when filing an insurance claim for the damages to your vehicle.
- Contact your Direct Auto & Life Insurance agent. With your policy number, police report information, and pictures of the collision in hand, call your Direct Auto & Life Insurance agent to report the accident and damages as soon possible. Simply call 1-800-403-1077 and select option 1. Your Direct Auto agent will work with you to begin the claims process.
In an ideal world, these preventative driving tips would help you avoid any sort of collision with a deer. If you do end up hitting a deer and your car is damaged as a result, your comprehensive coverage could come into play. If you have questions about your coverage and want to know exactly how it would help you in this scenario, give one of our agents a call at 1-877-GO-DIRECT (1-877-463-4732)! We’d be happy to help you learn more about your current coverage. In the meantime, stay alert and keep an eye out for friendly forest creatures near the road!
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