- Slow down. Watch for deer especially around dawn and between the hours of 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., when they’re most active.
- Be aware. Look out for deer-crossing signs and wooded areas where animals are likely to travel. If you travel the same route to and from work every day, you may find deer consistently grazing in the same fields. Make a mental note of when and where you regularly see the animals.
- Be alert. If you see an animal on the side of the road, slow down. At night when traffic permits, put on your high beams for improved visibility.
- Brake, don’t swerve. Swerving to avoid an animal can put you at risk for hitting another vehicle or losing control of your car. It can also confuse the animal as to which way to go. Instead, just slow down as quickly and safely as you can. Your odds for surviving an accident are better when hitting an animal than hitting another car.
- They probably have friends. Deer travel in groups, so if you see one run across the road, expect others to follow.
- Don’t rely on deer whistles. These are aftermarket devices that some drivers put on their front bumpers to scare off animals. But animal behavior remains unpredictable, even if you use one of these.
- Buckle up. A seat belt is your best defense for minimizing your risk in a crash. An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study found that 60 percent of the people killed in animal-vehicle collisions weren’t wearing their seat belts.
If you hit an animal, move your car safely off the road and call the police or animal control. Don’t attempt to touch an injured animal. Photograph the scene, then call your insurance company when you get home. Damage from animal collisions is usually covered by auto insurance policies.