I never used to think twice about the yellow caution signs for deer that I came upon occasionally in parts of Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach, Virginia (VA), that was, until a friend of mine struck a deer.
As she tells the story, the deer struck her. Either way, the result was less than pretty and not cheap. Her silver Lexus was dented so badly it looked like she had been struck by another vehicle. Fortunately she did the right thing and stayed in her lane. She fought the urge to swerve which in many cases results in an auto accident with another car.
A recent study by the University of North Carolina, (NC) at Chapel Hill found that crashes involving deer statewide have climbed steadily in recent years.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation says 19,300 animal-related crashes were reported each of the last three years, and 90 percent of those involved deer. Since 2007, the incidents have resulted in 3,353 injuries to people, of which 17 were fatal, and nearly $127 million in property damage.
So, if you have average car insurance coverage, or are an underinsured driver, a deer-car wreck can leave a serious dent in your pocket book.
So what do you do? Do you swerve? Slam on the brakes?
Neither, more wrecks occur when you swerve.
NCDOT offers the following suggestions for motorists to avoid being in collision with a deer:
- Slow down in posted deer crossing areas and heavily wooded areas, especially during the late afternoon and evening.
- Statistics indicate most car-deer crashes occur near bridges or overpasses. Deer also follow railroad tracks, streams and ditches.
- Drive with high beams on, when possible, and watch out for eyes reflecting in the headlights.
- Remember that deer often travel in groups, so do not assume that the road is clear if one deer has already passed.
- Do not swerve to avoid contact with deer. This could cause the vehicle to flip or veer into oncoming traffic, causing a more serious crash. Swerving also can confuse the deer as to where to run.
- Increase the distance between your vehicle and other cars, especially at night. If the car ahead of you hits a deer, you may also become involved in the accident. If a driver is following too closely they may rear-end your car if you strike a deer.
Let's be clear here: one car accidents caused by deer (such as when your car is damaged, or you are injured as examples) do not involve an injury claim we can assist with, although insurers will usually cover your vehicle damage under the comprehensive part of your own policy.
The only injury claim our attorneys will consider involving deer, is where a driver carelessly swerves or drives their car in a deer avoidance move that causes injuries to a passenger or driver of a second vehicle, or passenger in the "host" driver's vehicle.
So, take heed of the safety tips and drive carefully.