You have heard the expression “deer in the headlights” to describe that look of fear someone gets when they’re suddenly put on the spot. But as a driver, when you spot a deer in your headlights, the animal isn’t the only one making that frightened face! Read on for tips that help you avoid a deer strike collision.

A white tail deer in the road is as unpredictable as it is beautiful.

According to statistics by State Farm, fall is the worst season for animal strikes, both in numbers of collisions (1.9 million last year) and severity (an average cost of $3,560 every November for the past 13 years).

Why fall? There are several reasons. First of all, we tend to do more fall driving at dawn, dusk or dark, simply because there are fewer daylight hours. And since deer are most active in the early morning and from 6-9 pm, your chance of an encounter is greater. Autumn is also mating time for Bambi & Friends, and you know how it is when your attention is focused on your latest love interest. Sometimes you just don’t know what hits you … literally.

But as humans, we can use our intelligence and common sense to put some defensive driving best practices in place to avoid deer collisions this fall and all year long. Here are just a few:

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  • Slow Down & Pay Attention: Especially at times when deer tend to graze and along wooded areas of the road where they are likely to congregate. Deer crossing signs are a good indication that you’re passing a section that’s especially active, but remember: deer can’t read, so they may not cross at the sign.

  • Use Your High Beams: If traffic permits, improve your visibility by bringing up the brights. But please don’t blind the guy in the opposite lane.

  • Assume There’s More Than One: Deer tend to travel in groups, so if you see one, best to slow down (don’t swerve!) and wait for his buddies to appear.

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Wear Your Seat Belt!: According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 60% of people killed in animal-vehicle collisions weren’t wearing their seat belts. Another compelling reason to always buckle up!

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  • Don’t Panic: If you do hit a deer, move your car safely off the road, take a photo, and call the police or animal control. Don’t touch an injured animal! Once you have filled out the necessary paperwork with law enforcement and determined that your car is safe to drive, go home and call your insurance company. Here’s a helpful PDF to keep in your car just in case:

The Morning After

You’ll want to wait till the light of day to assess your car’s damage and arrange for any repairs you may need. Hitting an average-sized doe can result in extensive damage, especially if you’re driving a compact vehicle or a sedan. Vehicles have been totaled by a single deer collision, depending on the speed, where the deer hit, etc. While larger SUVs and trucks tend to fare a little better, shattered headlights, cracked and broken bumpers, front end dents, and other damage is not only possible, but likely. (1)

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While there are no guarantees that you’ll never have a deer encounter, by practicing some safe driving tips and staying behind the wheel of a car you can trust (see sidebar), you can up your chances of only hitting the road this fall.


Passing the Moose Test!



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