7 Ways to Avoid Hitting a Deer While Driving

I know it is rare to see in San Francisco, but in the peninsula, there are a lot of deer on the side of the road.  Some seasons are more populous than others but hitting a deer anytime of the year is not something anyone wants.  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.  It is very traumatic when a deer jumps out in front of your car and you can’t do anything but brace yourself for the impact.  Here are some tips to help you prepare for deer while driving and what you should do if you do indeed hit a deer.

While driving:

  1. Watch for a pack.  Deer run together and when there is one, normally there is another around.  If you see any deer, slow down and keep an eye out for more, they can come out of the pack quickly.
  2. There are key times that deer like to hangout.  The key times are dusk and dawn.  Both of these time periods are when your vision is most compromised. Also, deer move around a lot during mating season (between October and January) this is during the time when it is dark early and very hard to see. Slow down and stay alert, especially after dark.
  3. Wear your seat belt.  If you do hit a deer, it can cause a lot of damage and it is like getting into a head on collision.  So with that said, you need to prevent yourself from getting severely injured.
  4. Know your surroundings and look for road signs. The yellow diamonds with the deer on it are placed in high-traffic areas for deer.  This is your first clue.  I am sure you may have heard the phrase “like a deer in the headlights” before.  This literally happens when a deer is on the road in front of your car.  They will turn toward you and 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. If you see a deer, brake firmly and calmly, and stay in your lane if possible.  Also, I have been told that instead of turning your wheel toward the head of the deer to aim toward the rear of the deer because the deer will probably run forward instead of backward.
  7. Put on your emergency lights to notify others of a hazard.  Some experts recommend that one long blast of the horn will scare deer off the road but sometimes it scares them into another car.  I also think it is a good idea to flash your lights to the cars on the other side of the road altering them as well.  They need to know just in case there are other deer in their pathway.

We hope you’ll never need this section.

According to most Car Insurance Agencies, if you do hit a deer, this is what they recommend.

  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.  In the bay area Animal Control comes to pick up the deer if it is injured or deceased on the road.
  5. Contact your insurance company as quickly as possible to report any damage to your vehicle.