By Madeline Klein on December 19, 2018.
Let’s set the scene, shall we? You’re driving at night. It’s late. And let’s admit it, you’re a little tired. There are no other cars around you, and you’re on a road near some woods. Before you know what’s happening, a deer runs out from the woods and towards your car.
There’s nothing quite like that moment your heart jumps into your chest when you first see that deer. Not only do you not want to hurt the deer, but you also don’t want to damage your car. You’d likely have a car insurance claim, and potentially a totaled car if it’s a particularly bad incident.
Coming in hot with a stat: a collision with some form of wildlife occurs every 39 minutes. That’s a lot of accidents in not that much time.
While wildlife is pretty unpredictable, there are some tips you can use to help avoid this unfortunate situation.
1. Use your high beam headlights
We know not everyone has high beams, but if you do, use them. This will help you look ahead to see if any critters are coming your way.
It’s a good idea to also drive a bit slower than you would normally. Your headlights can only illuminate so far ahead of you, so the more leisurely pace will allow you to see animals before they’re right up on you.
2. When there’s one, there’s more
Just because one animal has crossed the road, don’t assume that’s it. A lot of animals move in packs, so when there’s one, there’s usually more coming right behind it. If an animal has just crossed the road, check the sides for more, or wait a minute to see what else comes out of the woodwork.
3. Scan the shoulders
Do a quick scan of the shoulders ahead of you. This way, you have time to react to any animals you need to. Those yellow wildlife signs aren’t just for show. They may seem pretty common, but they will let you know if there’s a bigger animal population in the area to watch out for. If you see one, take a mental note and be extra aware in those areas.
You can always ask a passenger to keep an eye out for animals too. Those shiny, reflective eyes are a key thing to watch for.
4. Be extra careful at dawn and dusk
These are really common times for animals to be out and about. Not only that, but at these times, a driver’s visibility usually isn’t that great. Since you’ve got two things working against you, be extra careful when you’re driving in those twilight times.
If collisions are unavoidable
If all else has failed and you can’t avoid an animal, it’s best to hit your brakes and stay in your lane. People typically want to swerve in these situations, but if there’s other traffic around, you’ll likely cause more damage to you and your vehicle by swerving. Yes, deer are large and can damage your car, but not as much as an 18-wheeler could.
We think you should always be using safe driving techniques, but especially when you’re in an area with wildlife. These tips can help you avoid those whitetail deer or other critters running around.