5 safe driving tips for deer season
Last updated: January 1
When autumn begins, it’s important to remember that deer become more active as they get ready for mating season — which can mean a greater risk of deer-related accidents while driving. It’s important to stay alert and be aware of your surroundings to help you avoid this risk. Here are a few safe driving tips to keep in mind while on the road.
Be aware of your surroundings
According to the University of Illinois Extension (U of I Extension), the majority of vehicle accidents involving a deer occur from October through December, when deer activity is at its peak. It's important to pay close attention to what's around you — including deer crossing signs, as they can help you identify areas known to have a high deer population. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation recommends slowing down and increasing distance between your vehicle and other cars when you see those signs. The extra room may give you more time to react if a deer crosses the road in front of you.
Look out for the group
Deer typically travel in groups, says the Insurance Information Institute (III), so if you cross paths with one deer, keep your eyes open for others. The U of I Extension advises that you should not swerve to avoid hitting a deer, even though it can be a common instinct, as it could cause you to lose control of your car and result in a more serious accident.
Pay attention to the clock
According to DeerCrash.org, deer tend to be most active at dawn and dusk. Since visibility is lower during these times, reduce your speed at night and use high-beam headlights for a better view — but make sure to tone them down when oncoming traffic approaches so you don't reduce the visibility of other drivers. The brighter light can also help a deer's eyes stand out, says the III, helping you spot a deer from further away. This may give you more time to slow down and safely pass the deer.
Regularly clean and inspect your car
When deer are on the move, being able to see them from as far away as possible is important. To help ensure clear visibility, DeerCrash.org recommends keeping your windshield clean. You may also want to check your headlights regularly to be sure they are clean and in good working condition. While you're at it, make sure your tail lights are clean and working as well — the U of I Extension states that if you see a deer on the road, tapping your brakes can help alert other drivers behind you of its presence.
Have a plan in case of an accident
Like all animals, deer can be unpredictable. While you can take many steps to improve your safety, sometimes accidents happen. If you do hit a deer, DeerCrash.org recommends coming to a stop on the side of the road and turning on your hazard lights. Once you've come to a stop, remain in your vehicle and report the accident to the local police department. The III states that you should not attempt to touch the animal, as a scared or wounded deer could cause further harm to itself — or even you.
Though deer season peaks from October through December, remember that a deer could run on or near roadways at any time of the year. Practice safe driving at all times and remember these few extra precautions to help get you through this time of year accident-free.