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Car Safety

Deer Hit Car, So Now What Do You Do?

deer hit car
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Hitting a deer is bad for everyone. If deer hit car, the deer likely dies, not to mention your ride might be totaled and you might be injured.

Over 1.5 million deer hit cars every year, and deer accidents send 10,000 people to the hospital and actually kill about 200 per year.

In fact, an annual analysis by State Farm estimates that the current odds of a U.S. motorist hitting a deer, elk or moose are 1 in 169. To make matters worse, a deer hit car type of accident costs more than $4,100 per claim, State Farm says.

So what can we do to stop the chance of injuries to ourselves, our vehicles, and the deer? And what about after a deer is hit by a car?

There’s a few guidelines you can follow to avoid hitting deer, and even if you must hit the deer there’s a best way to do it.

Deer Hit Car Every Day, Here’s How To Avoid Them

The deer hit by car are usually the second surprised deer following the first. If you see one deer, chances are there are more than one deer. Deer can jump upwards of 8-12 feet, so steep banks and fences do not mean deer won’t try to cross.

Know where deer like to cross and what time of year they are the most active. Deer hit cars mostly at night around the fall and winter (more on that in a moment). Drive more cautiously around wooded areas and places known to have deer.

Slow down right away if you see a deer. Watch your rear view mirror and gently apply your brakes to protect yourself from getting rear ended.

The month when deer hit the most cars is November, followed by October and December. Accidents also spike up and down from October to January, the height of deer mating and migration season.

Deer are most active at dusk and dawn, from 5 p.m. to midnight, and 5 a.m. to 8 a.m.. Unfortunately those are times when cars are normally on the road, too.

Many times you may not actually hit the deer, as deer hit cars by leaping onto your car in an attempt to avoid it.

Avoid driving at night or through heavily wooded areas during the fall and winter if possible. Deer are nocturnal so be careful and watch out at night and twilight, especially during the fall & winter as they will be on the move to mate and because of hunters flushing them out. They can be out until sunrise so be extra watchful until then as well.

Top tips to avoid deer

  • Watch for deer between sunset and midnight, and during pre-dawn hours when they’re most active.
  • Be especially attentive for deer during the October-to-January migration and mating season.
  • Slow down in posted deer-crossing areas.
  • If you see 1 deer, remember that others are probably nearby.
  • Use high beams at night in deer territory when there is no oncoming traffic.
  • If a deer is frozen in your headlights, honk your horn in a loud, sustained blast.
  • Don’t rely on deer whistles or roadside reflectors; they have not been proven effective.
  • If you can’t avoid a deer, brake and stay in your lane. Don’t endanger other vehicles.
  • If you strike a deer, do not touch the animal. It may harm you or further injure itself.
  • Call police immediately if you hit or are hit by a deer.
  • Take pictures of the accident scene and vehicle damage for your insurance claim.

How To Hit A Deer With Your Car

Typically deer hit car on the side fenders, front grille, or they actually jump on the car (sometimes into the windshield) in an attempt to avoid it.

If you have no choice but to hit a deer, make sure the deer that hit your car do so in the best way possible (if there is such a thing).

Most serious damage and injuries are caused by people taking evasive actions, so if you have no choice to hit a deer then make a point to hit him the right way.

As soon as the deer hits you, firmly apply your brakes while holding the steering wheel to make a controlled stop without hitting another vehicle or a another object, such as a tree. It is better to just hit a deer than hitting other vehicles and trees or ending up in a steep ditch, so don’t swerve violently or hit the gas.

After The Deer Hits A Car

Pull over and inspect your vehicle. Stay calm, and be mindful of oncoming traffic and the safety of the area you’re in.

Don’t continue to drive unless you have no choice, your vehicle could be damaged. Radiators and suspension systems are often damaged when deer hit car. Continuing to drive could cause even more damage to your vehicle.

If you know for sure that the deer is dead, you should move it out of the road if possible for the safety of other motorists. DO NOT touch the deer if it is still alive because it can strike you with its legs and you may end up laying in the road with the deer.

Dialing 911 is the best thing to do. Before the police arrives you can:

  • See if the deer is moving, but again don’t get too close.
  • Move your car, if you are able to, in front of the deer and turn on your vehicle’s hazards.

When the police arrive, fill out an accident report for insurance purposes. While your insurance company might not require a police report, it’s best to have one for proof if there are any questions or problems with getting your insurance company to fix the damage. The police will call animal control to take care of the deer.

Insurance Following A Deer Related Accident

You need to contact your insurance provider as soon as an accident happens. Sometimes, depending on state laws, your insurance will not cover your insurance claim if you leave the scene of the accident, even if it is not your fault or a one car accident such as when deer hit car.

Animal-related damage is usually treated as an “other than collision” claim under your comprehensive coverage, which covers various acts of God like wind, hail, and flood, as well as fire, vandalism and theft.

Your deductibles will determine whether you should file a claim or pay for the repairs yourself. Many times the damage caused by a deer collision is close to a $500 or $1,000 deductible so it may be wiser to pay for the damages yourself instead of taking the hit on increased monthly premiums if you file a claim.

Deer Carcasses

Most states will not allow you to bring home a deer carcass off the side of the road. If you would like to keep it, ask the law enforcement officer who comes to help make your police report or move the deer out of the road. He will more than likely know the laws in your state.

But if you can, enjoy your meat!

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