Fall is a glorious time to take a drive and enjoy the changing colors. Be careful, it’s also a dangerous time for wildlife.
Accidents with deer and elk spike across the United States from October through December, with November the top month for deer-car crashes.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates more than 1.5 million deer collisions take place every year in the U.S., causing over $1 billion in vehicle damage. The danger increases when your travel in rural areas where deer roam; just look at the scattered bumpers, grills and lights on the sides of the roadways.
The top ten states for deer-auto crashes in 2016 were:
- West Virginia
- South Dakota
- Michigan tied with Wyoming
To reduce the risk of hitting deer or other wildlife:
- Don’t drive distracted
- Slow down
- Use high beams at night when there is no oncoming traffic
- Stay alert at dusk and dawn when deer tend to be most active
- Pay attention to wildlife warning signs
- Honk your horn to scare any deer off the road
- Break firmly and don’t swerve (many serious crashes occur when drivers lose control of their car or truck trying to avoid a deer)
If you hit a deer:
- Attempt to move your vehicle to the side of the road
- Use your hazard lights
- Call local law enforcement or the state patrol (especially if there are injuries, your car is not drivable or the animal remains in the road)
- Don’t approach or attempt to move an injured animal (it can hurt you)
- Take photos of the crash, the damage to your vehicle, and the roadway where it occurred
- Fill out an accident report (some areas allow you to do it online)
- Contact your insurance company as soon as possible