Observing deer in their natural habitat can be a serene and enjoyable experience. However, encountering them on the road presents a completely different narrative.
If you’ve ever experienced this, you’re not alone. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 1.5 million drivers find themselves in deer-related collisions each year, resulting in nearly $1 billion in vehicle damages. (Discover how your auto insurance can offer assistance in the event of a deer collision.)
We’ve previously provided guidance on how to steer clear of hitting a deer if one unexpectedly leaps in front of your vehicle. But what about those prevalent bits of folklore that everyone seems to have heard about deer collisions? Is there any truth to them?
Debunking Deer Myths
Myth: Deer are most active at sunrise and sunset.
Deer are known to cross roads at various times of the day, but their peak activity generally occurs during dawn and dusk. Scientifically termed “crepuscular,” these creatures are most active during twilight. Therefore, when you’re driving during sunrise or sunset, exercise extra caution.
Myth: You’re more likely to collide with a deer in the fall.
Between October and December, nearly half of all deer-vehicle collisions take place. This timeframe coincides with deer mating season and prime hunting days. As deer seek mates or evade hunters, they are prone to crossing roads.
Myth: Deer whistles can prevent collisions.
Deer whistles, which attach to your vehicle and emit a supposed frequency to warn deer and deter them, have been promoted anecdotally. However, no credible study has confirmed their effectiveness. A study at the University of Georgia found that regardless of the whistle’s volume or pitch, it doesn’t alter deer behavior. In comparison, established technologies like crash avoidance systems might offer better results. At best, maybe (and there are no studies to support this) it will help the car right behind you, or at least that’s what I was told growing up (along with many things I have subsequently found less than totally accurate).
Myth: Hitting a deer isn’t very dangerous.
While no one wants to face the costs of repairing their vehicle after a deer collision, these incidents can result in more than just inconvenience. In 2016, the IIHS recorded 189 deaths from animal collisions. Notably, the most severe injuries occur when a vehicle leaves the roadway. It’s crucial to know when to swerve and when to maintain your lane. I always tell people that it’s almost always better to simply hit a deer than to quickly swerve in an attempt to avoid. Also, hitting a deer isn’t considered an at-fault accident, while hitting a tree avoiding a deer is an at-fault accident. In short, hitting a deer won’t have the same impact on your insurance rates as an at-fault accident.
Myth: “Deer crossing” signs indicate more deer in the area.
If you come across a deer crossing sign, it’s not mere decoration. These signs are strategically placed in regions with high deer populations and a history of collisions. Factors such as road conditions and visibility also influence the placement of deer crossing signs. Take the signs seriously and it may help you avoid hitting one. (And for those wondering, the signs are meant for human eyes, not deer!)
Myth: If I hit a deer, I can take the meat.
Fact: It depends.
If you have a taste for venison and are tempted to salvage the situation by taking the deer home, check with the relevant authorities first. Typically, the regulating body for hunting in your state, such as the Game Commission or Fish and Wildlife Division, should be consulted. In some states, you can take the animal after filing a police report or obtaining a special permit or tag, while in others, it may be illegal. If you have never taken a deer, you may find you wish you didn’t if you can. The reason is simple, the meat tends to be in pretty bad condition and the amount of work compared to the amount of usable meat may not make it worth it. As often is the case, it does depend though.
Auto Insurance Coverage for Deer Collisions
Deer-vehicle collisions fall under the comprehensive coverage of your auto insurance, an optional add-on. (For a deeper understanding of your auto policy, give 1 Reason Insurance a call) and an insurance agent can assist in tailoring an auto insurance plan that suits your needs and budget.