Fall can be the perfect time to go for a drive to take in all those breathtaking changing colours, but drivers beware – this time of the year also happens to be migration and mating season for deer.
This means deer and other wildlife become much more active, and as a result, the rate of vehicle-wildlife collisions tends to increases significantly. Every year in Ontario alone, more than 14,000 vehicle-wildlife collisions are reported. In 2017, 439 injuries occurred as a result of these accidents. Being on the lookout for wildlife on the road and knowing what to do if you encounter them could save your car thousands of dollars in damages, and even lives.
Keep these couple of things in mind before hitting the road this autumn.
How to Avoid Deer Collisions
Be aware of wildlife crossing signs, wooded areas, and tall grass, especially around dawn and dusk, which is usually when deer are most active. Deer also travel in groups, so if you see one, assume there are others.
Stay alert by scanning the road from one side to the other often. At night, turn on your high beams if there are no cars coming from the other direction. Keep in mind that the speed limit is no longer applicable when visibility is compromised due to the lack of light.
Drive at or below the posted speed limit and maintain a safe distance between you and other vehicles. This will also help you safely come to a stop when necessary.
A good rule of thumb is to drive at the speed at which you will be able to stop within the zone of your headlights.
If You Do See a Deer…
Slow down– the actions of deer can be unpredictable, and bright headlights might cause it to freeze on the spot temporarily. If necessary, apply the brakes firmly and honk your horn to scare the wildlife away.
Look in your rearview mirror and take notice of the cars behind and around you. Apply the brakes and steer straight until you are able to stop, or you are travelling at a speed that would allow you to maneuver around the animal safely.
Don’t veer for deer. Although it may be our instinct to swerve to avoid any wildlife on the road, it can be dangerous for many reasons. Veering can cause you to lose control of your vehicle, leading you into any oncoming traffic or into a ditch. It might also confuse the animal as to which way to go.
What to Do After a Deer-Vehicle Collision
If you do hit a deer, stay calm and run through this 5-step checklist:
- Pull over to the side of the road if possible and turn on your 4-way hazard lights.
- Make sure that you and the passengers in your car are okay.
- Call police to inform them of the collision, especially if damage has been caused to your vehicle or if the animal is impeding traffic.
- Do not touch the animal, even if it may appear injured or deceased – their flight-or-fight instincts could kick in at any moment and harm you.
- Photograph the scene and any damages. If necessary, call for a tow truck, and/or call your insurance company when you get home.
Deer-vehicle collisions can be frightening, but they can also be difficult to avoid. If you have been injured in an accident involving deer or other wildlife, contact us today to learn how our team of lawyers can help you receive the support you deserve.