Most important, do not swerve to avoid hitting the deer. It is never a good idea to suddenly change the direction of a moving vehicle. A sharp turn of the steering wheel may cause the driver to lose control. There is more risk of critical injury and major vehicle damage if you crash into a bridge, post, tree or oncoming car. Instead, take your foot off the gas, hold the steering wheel tight, maintain a straight course and brace for impact with the deer. There will be vehicle damage, but you are less likely to be hurt in the crash.
Other deer-related driving strategies:
- Pay extra attention to the road when deer are most active, 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. to 8 a.m.
- Deer are known to congregate in certain locations - wooded areas, field edges and near water. Be alert driving through these areas.
- Drive with high beam headlights at night when possible.
- Slow down and honk the horn if you see a deer along the roadside. More are probably nearby.
- Always wear a seatbelt and insist passengers do the same.
- Call 911 for assistance if you hit a deer. Request medical help if you or your passengers are injured.
- Pull your damaged vehicle to the side of the road and turn on emergency flashers. Remain in your car until help arrives. Do not touch the injured animal.
The Illinois Insurance Hotline urges motorists to drive cautiously in the weeks ahead.