BLOG – UNDER THE HOOD
August 5, 2021
Deer Collisions in the Lakeland: Prevention And What To Do If It Happens
Deer collisions – something Albertans are all too familiar with.
It’s a moment all of us dread; you’re driving down the road, chatting with a friend, or thinking about work, when all of a sudden you see a blur of fur out of the corner of your eye. You try to stop the car, but before you can reach the brakes, you feel the impact.
A deer has darted out in front of your car and you don’t know where they came from, where they went, or what damage has been done to your vehicle.
Living in the Lakeland there’s a good chance you’re going to hit a deer at some point in your life, but there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of these crashes.
Read on to learn more about preventing deer collisions and what to do when they do happen.
Where To Be Careful
The first step to avoiding collisions with deer is knowing where you need to watch out for them.
Animal collisions tend to occur around:
- rural areas
- good food sources & habitats near the road
- tree-lined roads with lots of foliage
- roads with nearby water sources such as lakes or streams
- roads that cross creeks or drainage areas
- long, straight sections of road
When To Expect Deer
Luckily, deer aren’t equally active throughout the entire year, although an animal collision can occur at any time. There are certain months when these collisions are more likely that you’ll need to pay closer attention.
Throughout the year, it’s a good idea to pay closer attention between 7 p.m. and midnight, as that’s when deer are most active.
Deer also tend to be more active during the spring and fall months.
You should slow down and watch for deer between October and January, which is the mating season for deer and moose.
Deer also tend to be more active during May and June as deer reemerge after their babies are born.
One of the best things you can do to help prevent collisions with deer during these peak seasons is to slow down.
For one thing, going slower will help to reduce any damage to your car and injury to the animal in the event of a collision. But driving slower will also give you more time to react and slow down when you see an animal.
Let’s say that, when you see a deer, it takes you half a second to get your foot to the brake. During that half a second, how far will you travel?
- Driving 50 kms/hour: you’ll travel nearly 20 feet
- Driving 80 kms/hour: you’ll travel nearly 30 feet
- Driving 110 kms/hour: you’ll travel more than 40 feet
Slowing down just a little can give you more space to stop and avoid a collision altogether.
It may sound obvious, but when you’re trying to avoid a collision with a deer, it’s important to pay attention.
It can be easy to get distracted while you’re driving, singing along with the radio or daydreaming. The more distracted you are, the less likely you are to notice wildlife on the side of the road and the more time it will take you to respond.
It’s a good idea to always practice defensive driving, both in rural and urban areas. Pay attention to the cars and landscape around you, and anticipate anything that might put you in danger.
Watch the sides of the road for wildlife, including glowing eyes, and as soon as you see it, start slowing down.
Understand Deer Behaviour
While it’s impossible to predict how a deer will behave, knowing more about deer behaviour can help you react better when you encounter them.
For instance, you might think that a deer standing on the side of the road would run away from a speeding car. But unfortunately, many deer and other wildlife may not react that way.
Many animals, when faced with the terror of a car barreling towards them, will go into fight-or-flight mode. They might bolt into the road, and they might even turn around mid-dash and go back towards where they came from.
Always expect a deer to dart out in front of you, and start slowing down as soon as you see them.
Brake, Don’t Swerve
When a deer jumps out in front of your car, it can be easy to react on instinct and try to swerve out of the way.
But this makes it much more likely that you’ll lose control of your car and spin out of control, especially during the winter months, when it may be icy.
If you swerve, you could wind up wrapping your car around a tree or putting other drivers in danger.
Instead of swerving, keep your course and direct your efforts into getting stopped instead. Hold the wheel firmly and brake, taking any precautions needed if you’re on ice.
Even if you do wind up hitting the deer, it’s better to collide with the animal than to put yourself, your loved ones, and other drivers at further risk.
Look For Groups
The other important thing to keep in mind when you see deer on the side of the road is that these animals seldom travel alone.
Deer may travel in groups, even if you can’t see the other deer immediately. This is especially common in spring, when you may find mothers and babies trying to cross the road together.
Even if one deer makes it across the road in front of you, you shouldn’t let down your guard.
Always assume there are other deer coming, and keep in mind that they may be smaller or camouflaged if they’re babies.
Keep your speed low until you’re well out of the area and you’re certain that there aren’t other animals hiding in the brush.
Don’t Count On Deer Whistles
If you’ve researched how to avoid collisions with deer before, you may have heard about deer whistles.
These are devices you attach to the front of the car which make noise as air moves across them while you drive.
Proponents will tell you that the noise these whistles make is unpleasant to deer and will drive them away from your car.
The truth, however, is that these deer whistles don’t really do anything to repel deer.
Several studies have shown that these whistles do not reliably reduce collisions with wildlife.
While you can certainly install one of these on your car if you like, make sure you aren’t solely relying on this method to repel deer and that you’re also using the other methods we’ve discussed to prevent crashes.
Taking the precautions we’ve discussed here can help to reduce your chances of hitting a deer, but they won’t eliminate the risk entirely.
Animals are unpredictable (especially deer), and there’s a good chance that if you drive in rural areas, eventually you’ll hit a deer. You need to take action to minimize damage if this does happen.
The most important thing you can do to reduce harm in the event of a collision is to buckle your seatbelt any time you’re driving.
If you have to brake suddenly or if you do hit a deer, you could wind up being thrown through the windshield.
Your seatbelt will keep you in your seat and may help to keep you from hitting your head on the windshield or steering wheel.
What To Do If You Do Hit A Deer
- Move Your Car
If you do wind up hitting a deer, there are several steps you need to take to safely handle the situation.
The first thing you need to do is to move your car to a safe location off of the road, if at all possible. If you stay in the road, not only do you block traffic, but you’re also at greater risk of getting hit by another car.
If at all possible, move your car off the side of the road to a safe place where you can park.
If there’s no safe shoulder, see if there’s a drive or side road you can pull off on.
If you absolutely have to stay in the road, pull as far to the side as you safely can and put on your flashers to alert oncoming cars that you’re stopped.
- Call the Authorities
Once you get your car to a safe place, the next thing you need to do is to call the police.
While it may seem silly to call the cops over a deer crash, they can help you manage the situation safely. You may also need to get a police report for any insurance claim you may have to submit.
Take note of any landmarks around you, especially if you don’t know the name of the road you’re on.
Call 911 and do your best to tell the dispatcher where you are and the state of your vehicle.
They can send out a police officer to help direct traffic around your car, move your car to a safe place, and move any animal remains or debris that may be in the roadway.
- Take Photographs
After the police arrive and any immediate danger is removed, you may want to take photographs of the crash scene.
This may be important when you get ready to file your insurance claim to prove where the damage to your car came from. It can also help you to recall details about the scene and damage to your car, in case there are any questions later.
Always be sure you take safety precautions when you’re taking these pictures.
If at all possible, don’t stand in the road to take the picture, and always remain aware of your surroundings.
If you have to go on the road, ask the police to direct traffic around you while you take the picture, and don’t linger.
- Avoid the Animal
When you hit a deer, it’s natural to be concerned about the animal, especially if it’s still lying nearby.
If it’s alive, you may be tempted to go try to help it or see how badly it’s hurt. But it’s never a good idea to go near an injured animal, even one as seemingly harmless as a deer.
Wounded animals can lash out in fear and pain if you get near them, and even a deer could seriously injure you. Their hooves can be very sharp, and if you hit a stag, their antlers can be very dangerous.
Stay away from the animal and, if you feel it needs help, call animal control in your area. If the police are on scene with you, generally they will deal with this for you.
- Call Your Insurance
Once you have all the pictures you need, it’s a good idea to go ahead and call your insurance company.
The sooner they know about your accident, the sooner they can open a claim for any damage there may be.
Since this can be a long process before you get paid, it’s a good idea to get it started as soon as possible.
Tell your insurance agent exactly what happened and ask them what sort of documentation they’ll need.
If they need a police report, you can go ahead and ask the responding officer to submit that report.
They may also want additional pictures of your car or other evidence that you can collect while you’re at the scene.
Learn To Avoid Deer Collisions
Nobody ever wants to hit a deer, but with proper care and attention, you can reduce your risk of these collisions.
- Pay more attention during the spring and fall months when you’re on rural roads
- Especially those with a nearby water source
- If you do hit a deer, pull your car to a safe place
- Contact the police and your insurance company
If you do happen to have an unfortunate collision with wildlife, CSN JD Collision is here to help.
Being a proud family-owned and operated repair shop in the Lakeland for over 40 years, we are experts in repairing vehicle damage from deer collisions.
Contact your nearest location and let us help guide you through the process of getting you back on the road again.