Although the peak season for encountering deer on the road has now passed, that does not mean you will not come across one as you travel through rural areas — especially at night. It’s smart to know what to do whenever that happens.
How big of a problem is deer on the road?
According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, 4,320 drivers collided with deer in the state in 2019. Nine people lost their lives and another 449 suffered personal injuries. Most of the time, drivers encounter deer on the road around dawn or dusk because deer are more active around both of those times. It is also when the light is lowest, making it harder for you to spot the animals.
What can you do to reduce the risk of deer strikes?
Although deer can occur within urban areas, they are more common in the country or rural areas. When traveling through areas known for deer, slow down. Drive with your lights so they can see you more easily. If you see one ahead, sound your horn and brake gently to give them a chance to get out of your way. Remember, where there is one, there may be more nearby.
Is it better to hit a deer or swerve to avoid one?
Like many drivers, you may hate the thought of hitting a living creature. Yet, it is usually the safest option. Swerving to avoid a deer can result in much more serious injury to you, your passengers and anyone else on the road. You could swerve off the road and hit a tree or roll. If you veer into the other lane, you could crash into an oncoming vehicle. While striking a deer will damage your car and harm or kill the animal, it is the safest option and what the Missouri Department of Conservation recommends you do.
If you are injured in a car crash because another driver swerved to avoid a deer and ran straight into you, seek legal help to claim compensation. It may be that they did not spot the deer early enough because they were distracted or going too fast.