Steer Clear of Animal Collisions This Fall

Steer Clear of Animal Collisions This Fall

deer crossing
All Regions
Staff Writer

A collision with an animal can put a serious dent in your vehicle, if not destroy it completely. Any animal darting across the road could result in a crash, but deer are often the cause of animal collisions this time of year.

In fact, the months of October through December are when deer accidents peak, as their mating season leads to a dramatic increase in movement of the deer population. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates there are more than 1.5 million deer-vehicle collisions each year, resulting in 150 occupant deaths and tens of thousands of injuries. 

"Deer and other animals on the road are unpredictable, but there are actions drivers can take to minimize animal collisions," said David Hodge, vice president of insurance for AAA Western and Central New York.

Follow these tips to avoid animals on the road:

  • Look front, left and right. Continuously sweet your eyes across the road for signs of animals. While the most likely accident is an animal darting in front of you, they can also run into the side of the car.
  • Be especially attentive at dawn and dusk. Many animals, such as deer, are most active from 5-8 a.m. and 5-8 p.m. - prime commuting hours.
  • When driving at night, use high beams if there's no oncoming traffic. Your brights can better illuminate the road and help you spot animals sooner.
  • Watch for other deer. Deer rarely travel alone, so if you see one, chances are good there are more nearby.
  • Honk your horn with one long blast. A single, long blast on your horn may frighten animals away from your vehicle. The Insurance Information Institute advises against relying on devices such as deer whistles and reflectors, which have not been proven to reduce collisions with animals. 
  • Brake firmly if impact is imminent. If an animal is in your path, stay in your lane. Many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid animals, hit oncoming vehicles or crash into fixed  objects on the side of the road, such as lampposts or trees.
  • Always wear a seat belt. According to IIHS, most injuries in animal-vehicle collisions occur when passengers don't wear their seat belts.
  • Stay away from wounded animals. A wounded animal can be unpredictable and cause injury. If the animal is in the middle of the road blocking traffic, call the police immediately. 


"Ideally, we would be able to prevent all car-deer collisions, but the fact of the matter is that they do happen," Hodge says. "If you don't already have comprehensive and collision insurance, consider purchasing it. That way you know you'll be covered if it does happen to you."


Would you be covered if you hit a deer this fall? Request a quote and a AAA insurance agent will go over your current coverage with you.


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