Autumn often means that drivers are faced with the increased presence of deer on the roads. With fewer hours of daylight, it’s harder for drivers to see them, which is one reason insurance claims for deer strikes spike in the fall.
One study estimated that there were more than 1.9 million insurance claims for collisions with animals in a recent one-year period. Another study found that the average claim was $2,730.
So what can you do to avoid hitting a deer? First, slow down, especially at dawn and dusk when deer are most active. Use your high beams as often as you can to make sure you’re seeing further down the road.
Because deer tend to travel in groups, if you see one run across the road, expect others to follow.
If a deer runs out in front of your car, you don’t want to swerve because that can put you at risk for hitting another vehicle or losing control of your car.
Instead, Consumer Reports recommends that you slow down as quickly and safely as you can. In most cases, you’re more likely to survive a deer strike than a collision with another vehicle.
If you do hit a deer, pull over to a safe spot on the side of the road and call the police and animal control. Get out of the car — but don’t approach the animal — and take pictures of the scene for your insurance company.
Some drivers use aftermarket devices on their front bumpers called “deer whistles” to help prevent collisions with deer. But it’s important to remember that animal behavior is unpredictable, and you should always practice cautious driving habits.