Tips for avoiding deer-vehicle crashes
The Indiana Department of Transportation, the Indiana State Police and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources remind drivers to stay alert as deer become more active in fall months on Indiana’s roadways.
Nearly 50 percent of all vehicle crashes involving deer occur between October and December. Deer are generally more active during mating season in late October into early November. And with many farmers harvesting crops, deer could be on the move at any time, encountering roads more frequently and increasing the potential for collisions.
Across the state in 2015, there were more than 15,000 deer-related collisions, including vehicles crashing attempting to avoid striking a deer.
With the increased number of deer heading toward the roadways, deer-vehicle crashes will happen, but drivers can take measures to keep collisions to a minimum. Knowing when deer are most active and practicing defensive driving will help reduce your chances of becoming a statistic:
- Deer are most active between sunset and sunrise, especially in rural areas.
- Deer often travel in groups. If you see one, others are likely nearby. Stay alert!
- Pay special attention in areas where you have seen deer before and in areas near “Deer Crossing” warning signs.
- Exercise caution along woodlot edges, at hills and blind turns.
- Use high-beam headlights at night when there is no opposing traffic.
- Scan for illuminated eyes and dark silhouettes near the side of or on the roadway.
- If you see a deer, slow your speed drastically, even if the deer is far away.
- NEVER swerve to avoid hitting a deer. More serious crashes occur when drivers try to miss a deer but hit something else.
- Buckle up!
Studies have shown that novelties like deer whistles are ineffective in deterring deer. The best way to avoid an accident is to be alert.
Even when practicing safe driving, sometimes hitting a deer is inevitable. If a driver hits a deer, it is important to remain calm and do not touch the deer or approach it. Wounded deer are unpredictable and can be dangerous. Drivers should pull off the road, remain in the vehicle and make sure everyone is safe. Motorists involved in a collision are required to call the police and report a crash with at least $1,000 in property damage or if someone is injured.
To report a deer carcass on an interstate, U.S. highway or state road, contact one of INDOT’s six districts to report it. Find INDOT district contact information at http://indot.in.gov.
For more information about white-tailed deer in Indiana, including what to do with orphaned or injured deer, see www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/3359.htm.