Warning: Deer Crossing

The white-tailed deer is a typical sight in Ohio through much of the year. But when you’re driving, you may wish it wasn’t so common. According to the Highway Loss Data Institute, the number of insurance claims because of animal-vehicle collisions peaks each November.

When a collision is imminent, you should know the proper way to hit a deer to keep yourself safe.

  • Don’t swerve. By far, one of the biggest mistakes you can make right before you hit a deer is swerving. Swerving can seem correct in the moment, but this can cause you to hit another vehicle or someone’s property. This situation now changes your collision’s entire nature and also can seriously injure yourself or another driver.
  • Apply the brakes. Hold onto your steering wheel, apply the brakes and try your best to come to a complete stop as soon as you can.

What are the First Steps after Hitting a Deer with a Car?

  • Move off the road. Moving off the road keeps other drivers and yourself safe. Turn your hazard lights on.
  • Report if deer is in the road. Call 911. Reporting the accident can help on many fronts, but especially if the injured deer is still in the roadway.
  • Assess damage to the vehicle. If you’re going to make a claim, you may want to snap a few pictures of the vehicle damage. It will help you and your insurance provider when processing the claim.

Is it Illegal to Hit a Deer and Drive Off?

In short – no. Keep in mind this is only true if you hit a deer and nothing else. If you swerve and damage another vehicle or property, then yes. You’ll need to contact your insurance company and local police like you would with any other accident.

If this isn’t the case, it’s totally up to the driver’s discretion, but most states ask you to notify authorities if the deer is badly injured. It can be a potential hazard to anyone near it and needs to be handled as soon as possible.

Another factor that will warrant a call to local authorities will be if someone in the vehicle is injured.

AAA recently reported that in 2018, the average insurance claim for a deer-vehicle collision in Ohio was nearly $4,000. Vehicle sensors found on newer vehicles continue to increase repair costs. In fact, AAA found these new safety systems can double repair bills for minor collisions.

Hitting a Deer and Your Insurance

If you want to be proactive about precautions to take in case you hit a deer, start with your insurance. You need to know the difference between comprehensive and collision coverage.

Comprehensive insurance – Comprehensive covers an array of situations, but most importantly, it can cover animal collisions for this situation. Remember, this coverage applies if you only hit the animal.

Collision insurance – Collision covers the cost of damages as a result of an accident. Such situations like hit-and-runs, an accident caused by other motorists, or you swerving to avoid an animal and hitting another vehicle or property will be covered under this type of insurance.

To check up on your policy, call a AAA insurance agent at 888-222-6446 or visit AAA.com/Insurance.

Ways to Avoid Hitting a Deer with a Car

Remaining diligent is a significant game-changer. Spotting a deer before it’s too late is the best way to avoid an auto-deer collision. Here are some tips to keep you safe on the road:

  • Scan the road – Look ahead while driving. This may seem like an obvious one, but too often we get caught up in our driving distractions. We may lose focus on what’s ahead. If you can spot a deer (or any other animal) ahead of time, it will give you time to react appropriately.
  • Use high-beam headlights – This will aid in spotting a deer ahead of time. High beams help spot animals’ reflective eyes and increase your overall field of vision.
  • Be cautious at dawn and dusk – Dusk and dawn are peak times for deer-related auto accidents. Knowing when deer are most active can help prevent you from hitting a deer.
  • Always wear your seatbelt – According to the Insurance Information Institute, the chances of getting injured when hitting an animal are much higher if you don’t have on your seatbelt.

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