It’s fall in Colorado, which is the most dangerous season for motorists as the deer mating season makes the animals more active and increases the likelihood that drivers will be involved in a mishap. Two million such accidents happen each year in the United States.
It may be surprising that the Centennial state ranks in the middle for vehicle vs. deer accidents. A State Farm Insurance analysis shows Colorado drivers have a one in 209 chance of hitting a deer compared to the national average of one in 116.
Most motorists don’t know what to do
State Farm also quizzed drivers about the best action to take if a deer crosses their path on the highway. Two-thirds said they’d swerve or try to stop to avoid hitting the animal. However, safety experts say, “don’t do either!” Swerving your vehicle can send it into oncoming traffic or off a cliff or bridge.
While no one likely wants to kill a deer with their car, it may be the best way for you to avoid injuries or cause significant harm to others. There are also potential insurance implications involved, which may jeopardize how a claim is processed for injuries or property damage.
Tips to avoid car vs. deer calamities
The risks of hitting a deer aren’t confined to rural areas as more and more wildlife are being seen in urban areas. Safety experts and insurers have some suggestions to avoid crashes:
- Drive defensively: Wear a seat belt and don’t speed, especially at night in areas where deer congregate. Pay particular attention to areas with deer crossing signs.
- Choose the middle: If you’re driving on multilane roads, try to stay as far to the left as possible. That gives you more time to react if you see a deer coming from either direction.
- Look for shining eyes: Deer are most active between dusk and dawn. Use your high beams when possible to illuminate the road as well as the shoulders to pick up the flash of an animal’s eyes or even silhouettes.
- Look twice: Deer typically travel in pairs or herds. If you see one cross the road in front of you, there’s likely at least another one not far behind.
- Be ready for anything: Deer can quickly cross, stop in the middle or go back and forth in front of you. That unpredictability means never assuming you will be able to drive by without taking safety precautions.
What do you do if you hit a deer?
While the risks may be statistically lower for Colorado drivers to hit a deer, a 2017 study recorded 1,242 animals were killed that year in collisions with vehicles, most near the Rocky Mountain foothills. If you hit a deer, don’t panic. Pull your car safely to the side of the road, call 911 and stay away from it as a wounded animal may cause more severe damage to you or your vehicle.