Deer crashes: The best way to avoid them and what to do if you can’t

Last year in Ohio there were more than 4,200 reported deer-related crashes just in the month of November

CANFIELD, Ohio (WYTV) – November is one of the most dangerous times of the year for crashes involving deer in Ohio.

It’s mating season also known as rut. Deer are on the move and drivers are encouraged to pay attention because the animals can suddenly run out and in front of your vehicle.

Last year in Ohio there were more than 4,200 reported deer-related crashes just in the month of November. Trumbull County was one of the top counties with 97 deer crashes.

Lt. Jerad Sutton with the Canfield Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said the number of reported deer crashes this time of year increase by about five percent.

Sutton recommends using the high beams on headlights if possible if there is no oncoming traffic.

“The better you can see them coming, the more time you have to react, slow down to avoid a collision with them,” Sutton said. “If you see a deer ahead, you can put on your four-way flashers as you see them to warn other people so they don’t travel by you and end up striking a deer.”

Sutton said if one deer is spotted, there is a good chance more are close by. He said they are most active at dawn and dusk between the hours of 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

It’s best not to swerve to avoid hitting a deer because that could be more dangerous by going off the road or driving into the path of another vehicle.

If a driver hits a deer, the first thing to do is to move the vehicle off the road to a safe place.

“If you hit a deer, dial 911 and we’ll send somebody out to handle the crash report for you. But if you do strike a deer, we encourage you to report it to the police and insurance company so that you can get your damages repaired,” Sutton said.

Six immediate steps to take if you hit a deer (Courtesy: State Farm Insurance):

  1. Move your vehicle to a safe place. If possible, pull over to the side of the road, and turn on your hazard lights. If you must leave your vehicle, stay off the road and out of the way of any oncoming vehicles. Deer are most active at dusk and dawn—times when you or your vehicle may be less visible to other motorists.
  2. Call the police. Alert authorities if the deer is blocking traffic and creating a threat for other drivers. If the collision results in injury or property damage, you may need to fill out an official report. This report also can prove useful when filing your insurance claim.
  3. Document the incident. If it’s safe to do so, take photographs of the roadway, your surroundings, damage to your vehicle, and any injuries you or your passengers sustained. If witnesses stop, take down their account of what occurred, and ask for their contact information.
  4. Stay away from the animal. A frightened, wounded deer could use its powerful legs and sharp hooves to harm you.
  5. Contact your insurance agent. The sooner you report damage or injuries, the sooner your agent can file and process your claim.
  6. Don’t assume your vehicle is safe to drive. Double-check that your car is drivable after colliding with a deer. Look for leaking fluid, loose parts, tire damage, broken lights, a hood that won’t latch and other safety hazards. If your vehicle seems unsafe in any way, call for a tow.

According to State Farm, drivers in Ohio have a 1 in 126 chance of hitting a deer; in Pennsylvania, the ratio is 1 in 67.

2014 Ohio deer crash map
Map courtesy of the Ohio Department of Transportation