Deer Season Road Safety
While it may be tempting to take in all the beautiful colors Fall can bring, Four-State drivers must remain vigilant when out on the road. Not only is autumn in the air and the holidays rapidly approaching, but it’s also Deer Season. That’s right! The rutting or mating season runs from October through December; herds also migrate during this period of time. Due to the rise in the animal population, as well as deer movement, your chances of hitting an animal while driving have greatly increased. Every year, there are approximately 1.5 million deer-related auto accidents in the nation; 3,500 of those are in Missouri alone. So take your eyes off the lovely leaves and keep them on the road!
Are You Covered?
Damage to a vehicle from a collision with an animal is covered under an auto policy’s optional comprehensive coverage. If you have only collision coverage or liability coverage, your insurance carrier will not cover damage to your vehicle resulting from a collision with an animal. The NHSA estimates damage caused by deer accidents alone result in more than $1 billion in annual uninsured losses. To make sure your vehicle is covered for animal collisions, contact your agent or carrier to discuss adding comprehensive coverage to your policy. Filing a claim for an accident covered by your comprehensive coverage means you’ll still need to pay a deductible. After that, your insurer will cover the costs of the claim up to your policy limits.
How to avoid hitting a deer:
- Deer tend to travel in herds, so if you see one, lookout for more that may follow.
- Traffic signs are placed at known deer-crossing areas. Pay attention and reduce your speed when you see these signs.
- Be extra cautious during dawn and dusk hours, when animals tend to be more active. Stay alert and watch your speed.
- Make sure your headlights are in working order to improve your night vision. Using high beams can help spot wildlife, but be considerate of other drivers when using them.
- Stay focused while driving. Do not text, talk on your phone or allow passengers to distract you.
- Always wear your seat belt. This won’t prevent a collision but it can save your life in the event of an accident.
How to act if you do hit a deer:
Some accidents are unavoidable. Knowing how to react in the event of an animal strike can help keep you safe. If you are about to hit a deer or other animal, hold firmly onto the steering wheel, apply your brakes and come to a stop. If you can’t avoid striking the animal, try not to swerve. If you do swerve, you could lose control and hit a tree or veer into oncoming traffic. After a collision with an animal, follow these steps.
- Stay calm.
- If possible, move your vehicle to a safe place and turn on your hazard lights. This may mean pulling over to the shoulder of the highway.
- In the event of you not being able to move your car, or if the animal carcass is blocking traffic, alert the authorities so they can clear the roadway.
- Document the incident by taking photos of your vehicle damage, the roadway and any injuries sustained.
- Check to see if your vehicle is safe to operate. Check for leaking fluid, damaged lights, loose parts or other safety hazards. When in doubt, call a tow truck.
- If the animal is still on the scene, stay as far away from it as possible. Even though you may need to document the accident, do not approach the animal. A frightened or injured deer can be very unpredictable if approached. The authorities are better equipped to deal with a potentially dangerous animal.