Animal strikes are very dangerous for drivers and passengers, and they often result in serious damage to vehicles. But strikes with larger animals, such as deer, can actually cause some significant injuries.
This could also be more common than many people realize. For example, one study claimed that the average driver in Washington has a one-in-200 chance of striking a deer with their vehicle. This often happens because of deer migration patterns, and the later parts of the year cause about two-thirds of the crashes that occur within the state. It’s clearly a very real risk that can impact a driver at any moment – and often without warning.
Additionally, the way that people react to encounters with these animals can influence the safety of those around them on the road. It is critical to react properly to avoid making things worse. So what should you do if you see a deer ahead of you on the pavement?
Do not swerve to the left
If you’re on a two-way road, your instincts may tell you to swerve if to the left and simply drive around the animal, but this would cause you to drive into oncoming traffic. That is vastly more dangerous than just striking a deer, but people often react instinctively, rather than thinking through the ramifications. If you do try to swerve, you always want to swerve to the right.
Honk your horn and flash your lights
The best way to get any animal’s attention is to flash your lights and honk your horn repeatedly. You even want to do this if the animal is still on the side of the road. Deer will often enter a trance as they see the vehicle coming toward them, and they will freeze. But you can break this trance and get them to move out of the traffic lane.
Reduce your speed
Overall, you simply want to stay in your lane and reduce your speed as much as possible. You never want to try to swerve or do anything that would put other motorists in danger, as striking another car or a stationary object is much more risky for all involved.
Unfortunately, people sometimes panic and react inappropriately. If one of these other drivers swerves, hits your vehicle and injures you, be sure you know how to seek financial compensation.