How to Steer Clear of Deer (and Save 3,000 Bucks)

Here are a few dos and don’ts for avoiding costly accidents with deer during the winter driving season.

November marks the last weeks of fall (in most corners of the country) and the beginning of the winter driving season. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, as many as 65 million Americans will travel for the holidays. Coincidentally, November also signals the beginning of deer-mating season, and a related increase in accidents involving cars and deer.

More people driving; more deer getting busy — when you put it together it all makes sense. In fact, the number of animal-collision insurance claims is nearly 3 times higher in November than in other months.

When deer (or any other friendly beasts of the forest) meet the front side of your car, nobody wins. The average deer/car run-in could cost you more than $3,000. And that’s not to mention the emotional cost involved with running over Bambi.

Here are a few dos and don’ts for avoiding costly accidents, and perhaps sparing yourself a few tears in the process.

  • Watch for deer crossing signs and remember that deer are most active between dusk and dawn, particularly between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.
  • Buckle up. It’s been estimated that in fatal animal crashes, 60% of people killed weren’t wearing seatbelts.
  • Don’t count on deer whistles. There’s no conclusive evidence they work, and instead they can provide a false sense of security.
  • Don’t swerve or slam on the brakes since you could lose control of the vehicle. Brake firmly and steer straight.

Invaluable insurance tip

Although many people think a deer accident is covered under their collision insurance, it’s actually a part of their comprehensive coverage. (Hey, we didn’t make the rules.)

Make sure — especially if you live in an area densely populated with deer — that your comprehensive coverage is up to par and can cover the numerous potential expenses involved with a collision.

In summary, enjoy the winter holidays, but stay safe on the road and watch out for deer dalliances. Spare yourself the unnecessary headache of an accident and save a few bucks in the process. (Yes, pun intended.)

More ways to stay safe on the road this winter

Watching out for deer isn’t the only way to protect yourself while driving this winter. Be ready: Winterize your car in 7 simple steps, and make sure to brush up on your winter driving know-how with these helpful tips. Because truthfully, you can never over-prepare when it comes to snowy or icy driving.

Related links

How to properly transport a Christmas tree
Winterize your home and avoid these 6 extremely unpleasant scenarios
How did Black Friday get its name?

22 Responses to “How to Steer Clear of Deer (and Save 3,000 Bucks)”

  1. Dozer
    November 14, 2014 #

    ask a deer if she had any doe……….she said yeah man…..2 bucks!

  2. Bayard Donahoo
    November 15, 2014 #

    Some suggestions:

    1. Deer are nearly invisible at night, so in order to see the deer in time the driver must go slower at night in deer areas.

    2. If you must go fast at night in deer areas, follow another vehicle. The idea is to let the lead car plow into the deer, not you.

    3. Use your brights whenever possible. Remember, deer at night are almost impossible to see. The more light that shines on them the better your chances are of stopping to let the deer decide to cross or not.

    • Kenny Ray
      November 18, 2014 #

      Your first and third points are on target. The second point, not so much. There should be NO reason for one to "go fast at night in deer areas" Period. Following another vehicle at high speed may well make things worse. If the faster car in front plows into the deer, there is a very real possibility that the deer could be tossed over the top of that car and become a 200 pound projectile headed straight for your windshield. Hitting a deer with the front end of your car is going to be a bad day, having a flying deer hit your windshield at a high rate of speed is oging to be a really bad year.

      • Moon M.
        November 21, 2014 #

        Sorry, Kenny Ray, but I have to disagree. I live in south Texas, just off a 4-lane highway, speed limit 70 mph. Oil field tractor-trailers, pickups, and other vehicles cruising along at 65-80, in both lanes each direction. Try driving at 45-55 at night in a small hybrid and see how long you last on that road. Deer would definitely be the least of your problems.

    • ric2008
      November 23, 2014 #

      Bayard…you had better advice than the article.

  3. Alyce Vollmer
    November 15, 2014 #

    These are good tips especially for those who are transplanted into an area like southern Colorado.

  4. Blacksheep66
    November 16, 2014 #

    just come hunting with me this year, I can assure you that there will be no deer anywhere near us. That's why you bring a crap pile of beer.

  5. Jorge Gonzalez
    November 16, 2014 #

    I hit one in my SUV a little over a week ago. I was doing about 60. Tremendous impact. The roads were slick after a rain and the dang animal just walked out onto the highway. 2k of damage for me. I am not sure if it survived.

  6. amcvt
    November 18, 2014 #


    • Kris Hruby
      November 20, 2014 #

      You are exactly right-deer rarely travel alone. I learned this lesson well while living in Idaho

    • Al
      November 21, 2014 #

      Absolutely. If a deer crosses in front of you, don't watch it—watch the spot where it came from. Could be another deer, or a dog, following it.

  7. ketchumkenny
    November 20, 2014 #

    We have reindeer (pic) crossing roads in the US? Where? Are they legal to hunt?

  8. Patrick
    November 20, 2014 #

    You provided better advice that the article did. Thanks.

  9. mike
    November 21, 2014 #

    I drive with my left foot close to the brake pedal, not touching, and my hands on the wheel. that way I can get to the brake pedal much quicker and that lets my hand be closer to the horn. DON'T LAUGH. If I see a deer, I hit the brakes and then the horn. Sometimes that noise will scare the deer. At the very least it alerts the deer to danger. They are not able to comprehend how fast cars move because nothing in the natural world can approach them that fast. that is why they too often try to outrun a car but end up right in front of it. Especially after dark does this work because they tend to run toward the lights because they can see better where your headlights shine. So, hit the brakes, hit the horn, and hopefully you won't hit the deer.

    Really, DO NOT SWERVE to miss a deer, running off the road can be fatal. Trees are not forgiving. At least a deer strike should not cause a fatality. Off the road you can tip over, run into a lake, get trapped in the trees, go off a cliff. Don't do it. Hit the brakes, hit the horn and hope "Bambi" has the sense to get the heck of the road.

    Where I live, the deer warning signs are worthless. I see more deer where there are no signs. Our deer must be dumb, they can't read.

  10. Paul Eldred
    November 21, 2014 #

    That is not a deer in that pic. Duh.

  11. John Locker
    November 21, 2014 #

    The animal isn't a deer it's a caribou, or a rain deer !!

  12. Chuck
    November 22, 2014 #

    ya,just slow down, I know that is not in most peoples vocabulary. I drive 70 on Pa. turnpike,and 80 yr. old ladies pass me.How u gonna get there much faster than me. Wake up.

  13. Roger Johanson
    November 24, 2014 #

    Slow down and steer behind the deer, if possible, without swerving. As far as I know, a deer cannot rapidly go backwards. When they move, it is almost always forwards. I have been in vehicles that have steered in front of deer (we hit the deer) and behind the deer (we missed). It bears repeating that deer often in groups; keep your eyes open for additional deer and use your bright lights.

  14. Susan Motley
    November 26, 2014 #

    When you see a dear slow down and look carefully. Usually there are more than one. Make sure they have all crossed before you proceed!

  15. Clarence McDowell
    November 26, 2014 #

    I think a story about hitting a deer should have a picture of a deer, not a caribou.

  16. Mark C
    November 26, 2014 #

    Also understand that deer have excellent night vision, and when caught looking at your headlights they are blinded by all of the sudden light. instead of your horn flash your lights a few times it will break the light stream and they can look away and they run away.

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