Oh deer! It’s that time of year.
Published: 09 October 2015
Whether you're shooing one away from your suburban backyard or counting the days until buck hunting season, deer pop in our lives in many ways—We’re in Tennessee after all! As harmless as they may seem, you really don't want one to pop up in the middle of the road while you’re driving.
October through early January marks deer breeding season, which is when they become most active. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, about 1.5 million deer-vehicle collisions occur in the United States each year. From these collisions, about 150 people are killed and another 29,000 are injured. That being said, here are some driving tips to keep you safe on the road as deer season gets into full swing.
Buckle up, buckle up, buckle up
An estimated 60% of fatalities caused by deer-vehicle collisions are caused by failure to wear a seatbelt. This is a tip that applies year-round, so always buckle up, folks.
Read the signs
If you spot caution signs indicating deer or large animal crossings, use those brakes and drive a little slower. This will give you more time to react if you encounter a deer ahead, especially in heavily-wooded areas where they’re more common.
Time of day matters
You’re more likely to spot a deer around dawn and dusk, but stay alert at all times of the day. When driving at night, use your high beams to increase visibility—just remember to tone them down when you see oncoming traffic. This will give you more time to react if you spot a pair of shiny deer eyes up ahead.
Deer in headlights
Deer tend to freeze or become mesmerized in the road when bright lights are approaching. If you spot a “deer in headlights” (we’ve all heard this phrase, right?), immediately slow down, flash your lights, and honk your horn to startle and scare the deer off the road.
Resist the urge to swerve
Never swerve to avoid a deer. Not only would this action confuse the deer on where it should run, but it could result in a head-on collision with oncoming traffic or a crash into roadside objects such as lamp posts or trees.
Also, remember the pack rule: If you see one deer crossing the road, a whole group usually follows. Swerving to avoid one deer could end with a collision into another.
If you strike a deer…
If you do experience a deer-vehicle collision, call emergency services if injuries are involved. If no one is injured but damage has been caused to your property or someone else’s, contact your local police. Do not attempt to touch a deer that’s in or near the road, as a large animal with hooves can inflict some serious injuries. Report the incident to your insurance company as soon as possible.
Keep these tips in mind as you take to the roads this deer season!