Driving Safety: Deer in the Headlights

Watch For Deer While Driving!

Deer Crossing Minnesota

For those of us who live in Minnesota, we are well aware that most any season is “peak” for deer and auto collision. Here are some tips to prevent a collision between your car and a deer.

  1. Pay attention to your surroundings. 
    Look for the yellow traffic sign with a deer on it. If you see one, it means you’re entering an area with an active, concentrated deer population. Make sure your eyes are always moving, and pay  particular attention to the side of the road. AND, don’t forget to pay attention to what other cars are doing. The car in front of you may brake suddenly. If you notice something out of the ordinary, slow down.
  2. One deer probably equals many more.
    Deer usually travel in herds, so if you see one cross the road, look immediately to where the deer came from. There are probably others ready to cross. Deer are most active between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.
  3. High beams, high beams, high beams.
    Use your high beams as much as oncoming traffic will allow. High beams do a great job lighting up the road in front of you, especially the side of the road where the herd may be hanging out. If you feel your head lights aren’t lighting up the road properly, consider taking your car to your local mechanic for a check up. A headlight may be burned out or need an adjustment.
  4. Never swerve for a deer or other animal.
    While swerving is an instinct many of us feel when an animal runs in the road, it can put you in a more dangerous situation. Swerving can cause you to lose control of your car, put you in the lane of oncoming traffic, or cause you to hit a tree or ditch and overturn your vehicle. The best techniques are to remind yourself not to swerve and to braked firmly.
  5. Consider purchasing deer whistles.
    While there is conflicting data on whether or not deer whistles actually work, they’re a cheap precautionary measure. I believe it’s worth giving them a try.
  6. Stay calm and safe.
    If you do hit a deer, another natural instinct is to get out of your car to check the damage. But can you really determine the extent of the damage just by looking at it? Probably not. I recommend you stay in your car. From there, you can do a number of things that will keep you and your family safe:
    Call 911           Turn on your hazard light          Call your insurance agent
  7. Knowledge is power.
    Make sure you understand what coverage’s and limits of insurance you have on your auto insurance policy. Comprehensive insurance provides coverage for damage that results from hitting an animal. Without that coverage, you’ll be left with the bill.