You’re driving home in the early evening when you spot a family of deer on the side of the road. Their eyes gleam from the reflection in your headlights. Suddenly, one darts out in front of your car. Your first instinct might be to swerve to avoid the deer, but doing so may result in a more catastrophic result. Educating yourself on road safety precautions and knowing when deer are most prevalent, may help you avoid a dangerous situation.
According to the Pennsylvania Insurance Department, Pennsylvania had the second highest rate of car accidents involving deer in the country last year. Furthermore, one in seventy Pennsylvanians are involved in a deer-related accident. The highest incidents occur in the autumn and early winter months – November being the highest. Deer are most active during dawn and dust, and with the end of Daylight Savings Time this leaves more drivers on the roads during these peak hours.
So what can you do to stay safe on the road? These basic strategies can help you stay calm and possibly avoid an unnecessary deer encounter.
Slow down and use caution, especially when you’re in a highly populated deer area - look for those yellow deer crossing signs. Slower speeds provide more reaction time to unexpected actions. Remember that deer often travel in small herds, so be alert for more family members on both sides of the road.
Turn on your high beams. Using your high beams at night will illuminate the road to help you spot deer. Also remember that if your wipers are on, your headlights should be on – it’s the law.
Wear your seat belt. If you do hit a deer, wearing a seat belt decreases your chances of injury.
Even if you’ve taken the necessary precautions and feel you can safely avoid hitting a deer, there may be a time where the situation is, unfortunately, unavoidable. In this case, brake firmly, maintain your current speed or try to slow down. Never speed up as this can cause the deer to hit your vehicle with more force, which will only cause more damage (erieinsurance.com/blog/hitting-a-deer).
Pull your car over as soon as it’s safe. Use caution when examining your vehicle as injured deer can still hurt someone. Lastly, remember to call the police and obtain a police report for evidence when you submit an insurance claim. If you’re unable to make a call, take photos if possible. Under Pennsylvania state law, crashes involving deer are considered not-at-fault accidents, and insurance companies cannot add a surcharge to a policyholder’s premium as a result. HOWEVER, this excludes drivers that do not come in contact with a deer.
Adhering to appropriate driving strategies and being cautious behind the wheel can help keep you safe. If you have any questions regarding your existing auto policy through a Miller’s Insurance agent, or are interested in learning about comprehensive auto insurance coverage, call Miller’s Insurance Agency at (610) 269-4500.