A recent car accident near Kokomo resulted in the death of one passenger and injured the three other people in the vehicle. What had led to the crash? The driver had apparently tried to avoid colliding with an injured deer that was out on the road; unfortunately, in trying to avoid the deer, he wound up crashing into a tree.
According to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, every year there are thousands of motor vehicle accidents in Indiana that involve deer. These accidents may result in fatalities, injuries, or damage to the vehicle. In some cases, the car collides with the deer. In others, the driver swerves out of the deer’s path and winds up crashing into something else.
When it comes to sharing the road with deer, the following are a few tips:
- Follow traffic laws. If you take care not to speed or drive distractedly, and if you use your headlights at night, you’re already increasing your chances of being able to react safely to the presence of a deer on the road. If you’re wearing a seat belt, you’re also increasing your chances of a better outcome in the event of a collision.
- Take extra care and slow down on roads where you can’t see far ahead and where there are wooded areas, thick foliage or other obstructions to your view along the side of the road.
- If there’s one deer present, there will frequently be others in the vicinity. Keep an eye out for them.
- If there’s a deer standing in the middle of the road, and it isn’t moving at your slowed down approach, you can try flashing your headlights at it or hitting your car horn to try to get it to move. (However, keep in mind that deer don’t always behave predictably; sometimes a deer that gets out of the path of your car may abruptly jump onto the road again. Drive more slowly and be vigilant.)
- Don’t swerve to avoid the deer. For one thing, the deer itself may react in a confused way and run into the path of your vehicle anyway. More importantly, if you try to swerve around the deer, you could find yourself heading into oncoming traffic or going off the road. Sometimes, hitting a deer may be your best option; hopefully you’ll be going at a relatively slow speed.
- If you do hit a deer, you can call the police to report the accident (and summon emergency personnel for your own injuries). Don’t approach the deer, as it may behave aggressively and lash out at you.
Sharing the road with deer isn’t 100% avoidable, so hopefully the tips laid out here will help you negotiate such a situation without an accident.