7 Ways To Avoid Hitting A Deer

Deer crossing signDeer mating season can be a dangerous time for drivers, deer and car hoods. According to the Insurance Information Institute, 1.6 million deer-vehicle collisions occur each year, resulting in 200 fatalities, tens of thousands of injuries and over $3.6 billion in vehicle damage. Being prepared can help prevent you from adding to these statistics.

When driving this fall, you should:

  1. Watch for the rest of the gang. Deer are pack animals, and rarely travel alone. If a deer crosses in front of you, chances are there are more nearby. Slow down and keep an eye out for more deer darting across the road.
  2. Timing is everything. Deer are most active at dusk and dawn: periods when your vision is most compromised. To add to their terrible timing, deer are on the move during mating season (between October and January) when you’re more likely to travel after the sun sets. Slow down and stay alert, especially after dark.
  3. Wear your seat belt. It may not prevent a collision, but if the inevitable happens a seat belt can reduce injuries. This is especially true if you lose control and collide with something bigger, and more stationary than a deer.
  4. Take a moment to reflect. First, look for the road signs. The yellow diamonds with the deer on it are placed in high-traffic areas for deer. You may also spot a deer because their eyes will brightly reflect a car’s headlights, making them easier to spot.
  5. Stay Center. On a multi-lane road, the center lane is your safest bet for avoiding a deer collision, as long as your local traffic laws permit it. This gives deer plenty of space; and in case your vehicle does startle them, it gives you more time to react if one darts onto the road.
  6. Stay the course. If you see a deer, brake firmly and calmly, and stay in your lane. Swerving could make you lose control of your vehicle and turn a bad situation much worse. Not to mention, deer are unpredictable, and you could swerve directly into their changed path.
  7. Honk! Some experts recommend that one long blast of the horn will scare deer out of the road. Do not rely on hood whistles or other devices designed to scare off deer—studies have shown them to be largely ineffective at minimizing accidents.

We hope you’ll never need this section.

If the above plan fails (and it happens to the best drivers), you should take the following steps in the deer collision aftermath.

  1. Pull to the side of the road as soon as it is safe to do so.
  2. Turn on your hazard lights and remain in the vehicle until you are sure it is safe.
  3. Call emergency services if injuries are involved or the local police for property damage.
  4. Stay away from the deer. If it is still alive, it could be confused, injured and dangerous if approached. When contacting the authorities, let them know if the deer is in a dangerous spot on the road so that it can be removed.
  5. Contact GEICO as quickly as possible to report any damage to your vehicle.

By Nathan Erb

Need to report an accident? Click here.

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  1. Joe says

    I have had four deer in packs in my life.about 1971. Two deer slammed into the side of my Volkswagen about 8 PM one December.I was traveling around 25 miles an hour in a local park. One slammed into the my drivers door, the other went over the hood. They both continued on their way apparently unharmed.
    Around 2008.8 PM April, on my 800+ pound BMW motorcycle at 70 miles an hour , I impacted a deer dead center. It looked to be about an 80 pound deer. It didn’t hit my front wheel and It didn’t come over my windshield, my headlight, and faring was the main impact absorption area. I coasted to stop holding the clutch lever in and pulled over . And then I got excited.
    Two years after that impact, on my way to work on my Honda pacific coast motorcycle. May, 7 AM.The sun was just coming up. Approximately 35 miles an hour . I actually saw this deer out of the corner of my eye,stand up from where it was laying beside a tombstone in a cemetery, and run across the road ,I had the same type of collision.ripped the front fender off my motorcycle, headlight was broken and fairing was damaged. I did not go down that time either. I just coasted to a stop with my very loud aftermarket horns blaring. I was getting to be a veteran at deer impacts on motorcycles.
    I started riding motorcycles in 1968. All types of motorcycles, dirt bikes, trials bikes, street bikes big and small, Road racing motorcycles,. I have about 700,000 miles of experience on motorcycles. Those two deer impacts have completely changed my attitudes towards riding motorcycles at night and early in the morning. I always assumed that they could see me or hear me coming. Those two motorcycles that I was riding when I impacted the Deer had two things in common. They were both black motorcycles, and they were both extremely quiet motorcycles. As quiet, if not more quiet than a car with Summer type threaded tires. Cars that have noisy,snow tire type tires make more noise than either of my motorcycles did.my Honda motorcycle had deer whistles on it, and I believe they startled the deer into my path.
    I believe we need to expand the length of the hunting seasons. I am not nor have I ever been a hunter, but I’m thinking about it now.
    I believe if they were able to develop a car that could stop to avoid an impact with a dear, would result in the car or motorcycle that stopped to avoid the deer being plowed into from behind by a following vehicle. I am very wary of following vehicles since I have been rear ended while stopped five times since 2001. self-braking cars would have prevented those five impacts I have had from behind, but I don’t believe they could make a car that would stop for a recklessly running deer that flashes across your path.

  2. Linda Miilu says

    Lived in CT for 22 years and I learned to avoid the Parkway between Greenwich and Fairfield. Best to stay on I95 until you reach your exit. Local deer hazards: Westport and Fairfield. I lived on Compo Rd. and there were deer crossing that road at dusk; you learned to drive slowly and watch for them. CT had a large pro-wildlife “deer” contingent who crowded meetings when the subject of culling was on the agenda. I went to a few and noticed how many old people were there – those who probably weren’t driving much at dusk. The deer were a hazard to drivers and they should have been culled by the Park Service. At one time deer were rounded up and transported to wilderness areas; many of them found their way back.

  3. George C. Hall says

    Dear and Elk will turn to run away from noise, but at night see their shadow in headlights, turn to run from that shadow. Dimming your lights also helps.

  4. Donna Harris says

    I lived in Michigan for many years and drove with the fear of hitting a dear all those years. Wished I could have read the GEICO article “7 Ways to Avoid Hitting a Dear” to help relieve the stress during that period in time. However, my yearly visits to Michigan will entail less stress and more knowledge on my part. Thank you!

  5. Doris Pinkney says

    The information on how to drive when you enter the area where you see the dear sign was very informative.

  6. Stephen Short, Globe, AZ says

    GEICO personnel:

    You are THE BEST!
    Your helpful tips continue to both remind me and educate me about the dangers that could impact both me and my family–as well as other drivers.
    I’m proud to be a GEICO member, and you’ve always been easy to work with and supportive.
    Keep up the great work!

  7. RS David says

    Where I live the deer are so populous and brazen sometimes at night they just stand in the middle of the road. Ever heard the saying “deer in headlights” meaning the headlights of a passing car can freeze them in place. This is fine in most cases when the deer aren’t in the center of the street. So I have developed another way to scare them off. What I do is flash my headlights from low to high a number of times and that scares them off. Recently I was following a friend home and there were at least a dozen deer in front of us in the middle of the road that weren’t moving and I did the low-high trick, they jumped out from in front of her car just in time. She couldn’t believe it. By the way, she has hit 4 deer in her 20 years of driving!

  8. Daniel Thompson says

    Dim your lights!just as your highbeams blind oncoming cars,they blind the deer.they will escape fast if they can see!

    • Michelina Giuliano says

      When you say dim your lights, do you mean to drive with the high beams on all the time when in areas where the deer are? Thank you.

  9. Maureen J. Harmon says

    Thanks for the info on preventing hitting a deer. I have seen the results of a deer
    accident, it’s not pretty and I would never want to be involved.

  10. deb bowser says

    thanks, this really makes sense and in my 50 plus years of driving, I have seen these ideas work on many occasions and in many states.

  11. Phyllis Sponaugle says

    I enjoyed reading and getting my mind refreshed before winter driving. I had heard about the braking for deer ,but I was never told about the center lane.