Let’s face it – if you live in the Hudson Valley area, your true neighbors are probably the infamous white-tailed deer. Prying their faces through the garden fence for a quick appetizer before devouring shrubs and flowers along the walkway for dinner, they are everywhere and their appetites seemingly boundless.
Sadly, our noisy neighbors become an even bigger nuisance the moment we get behind the wheel of our cars. Due to their robust population in the region, deer are a major road hazard. From suburban streets to country roads and even highways, the threat of a deer collision is undeniable. According to reports, nearly 2 million deer-related accidents occur each year, resulting in 200 fatalities and over $3 billion in vehicle damage.
With deer mating season (October – December) in full gear, we have listed several tips to help get you through the end of the year collision-free:
- Timing. Prime times to find deer out and about crossing roadways are between 5 AM and 8 AM and from dusk until midnight.
- Visibility. Use your high beams when driving at night if there is no on-coming traffic. This will not deter the deer, but it will afford you the ability to detect them from farther away. Their eyes will sometimes reflect the car’s headlights, making them easier to spot. When there is oncoming traffic, SLOW DOWN. With your high beam off and oncoming headlights shining straight at you, visibility is significantly decreased even moments after the car passes as your eyes seek to adjust.
- Don’t crash the party. Deer are pack animals, rarely traveling alone. If one deer darts in front of you, rest assured that others are likely nearby. Make sure to slow down and keep an eye out for its friends.
- Stay center. On multi-lane roads or highways, the center lane is your best bet to avoid deer. It gives them more space and allows you more time to react.
- Take the turns slow. Reduce your speed on blind curves as the deer are more difficult to spot.
- Brake, don’t swerve! If you notice a deer near the road, slow down and stop if necessary. If the deer darts in front of your car, firmly brake, stay the course, and DO NOT swerve. That could cause you to hit another vehicle or lose control and end up in a ditch, turning a bad situation into one much worse. Plus, deer are capricious in their movement, and you could very well swerve right into their changed path.
- Auto maintenance. Ensure your vehicle’s tires and brakes are checked and monitored regularly.
- Wear your seat belt. Last, but certainly not least, buckle up! It won’t prevent a collision, but it can reduce injuries, especially if you do lose control and collide with something bigger or more threatening than a deer.
In the event that the above fails – and it can happen to the best of us – follow these steps in the aftermath of a deer collision.
- Pull over. Turn on your hazard lights and safely pull over to the side of the road immediately. Remember, deer are most active at dusk and dawn when you and your vehicle are less visible to other drivers.
- Stay away. Don’t approach the injured deer. If it is frightened, it could pose a threat to your safety or may wind up injuring itself further. If it is blocking the roadway, call the authorities to remove the deer from the road.
- Document evidence. Take photos of the roadway and the damage to your vehicle. If there is property damage or injuries sustained to you or your passengers, document them as well and file an official report. If witnesses stop, take down their contact information and their account of what took place. The more information you have, the easier your claim process will be.
- Practice caution. Thoroughly check that your car is safe to drive. Look for any fluid leakage, damaged tires, loose parts, hood damage, or broken lights. However, DO NOT remove evidence of the collision lingering on your hood or bumper. This could prove useful when filing your claim.
- Contact your Seely & Durland agent. Contact your representative right away. The sooner you report damage or injury, the sooner your claim can be processed. Also, make sure you are protected with the right type of insurance that meet your needs.
For more information, contact our insurance specialists at 845-986-1177. We are your business, home, auto, and life insurance solutions provider, partner, and adviser, serving Warwick, Greenwood Lake, Florida, Goshen, Pine Island, Middletown, Chester, Monroe, Newburgh, Orange County, and the Hudson Valley and Tri-State Area.