Many insurance claims are filed each year as the result of collisions with deer or moose. Although some accidents may happen regardless of precautions, most can be avoided with heightened awareness. Follow these tips to avoid a collision with a moose or deer, or any other animal for that matter.
- Pay attention to the warning signs. Waterways, forested areas and plains marked with deer or moose signs are the prime places to encounter these wild creatures. It is important to understand that they are more likely to appear during certain months. If it is hunting season, keep in mind that startled deer may run across the roads more frequently. They also run more when there are fires nearby, so be aware of any wildfires in the area.
- Travel at a safe speed. When approaching curved roadways or areas with more hills, slow down. Driver slower at night. Keep in mind that it takes several seconds to stop completely when traveling at higher speeds. Slower speeds can reduce the likelihood of a collision, and slower speeds also lessen the impact of an unavoidable collision.
- Drive defensively at all times. Practice stopping the car within the length of the headlight beams. Do this in a safe place with little to no traffic. Always drive at a speed where this is possible to do at night. Be ready to react quickly, and always have a plan for what to do. For example, if a deer or moose stops in the middle of the road, brake quickly without swerving. Many accidents happen because people swerve into trees or other cars instead of actually hitting an animal.
- Scan the landscape frequently. During daylight hours, the key to preventing a collision with a moose or deer is spotting it before it reaches the road. These creatures often run through fields in the late fall or winter months, so they may blend in better with the dead vegetation. Always watch for movement, and be prepared to stop suddenly.
- Use the horn when needed. If a deer or moose is running near the road, honk the horn. In most cases, the animal will freeze or move away from the noise.
- Take the proper steps after a collision. Driving defensively is the best way to prevent a collision, but it is important to know what to do if a collision occurs. First, pull over to the side of the road. Put on the hazard lights and make sure the other passengers in the vehicles are conscious. Treat injured passengers accordingly. It is important to keep a first aid kit available in the vehicle. Put road flares out if they are available. If the animal is dead and lying in the road, try to angle the vehicle enough that the headlights cast light on it. This may help prevent other drivers from hitting the animal. Never approach an injured animal. It may gore, kick or attack a human out of fear. Stay in the vehicle, call the police and wait for help to arrive. If anyone is injured to the point of needing medical care immediately, call 911.
Additional tips to consider: Although these six tips are the most important to follow, it is also helpful to know more about deer and moose behaviors. Many of these animals travel together, so there may be more following what appears to be a lone animal. Rest assured that if one deer or moose is seen alone, there are more within one mile. Even if a deer or moose is spotted off in the distance, slow down immediately to enhance alertness and safety. In some states, oncoming motorists will alert other drivers of dangers in the road ahead. To do this, they usually blink their headlights quickly once or twice. If this happens, slow down and be alert. Tired drivers are more likely to hit deer, so pull over and rent a motel if sleepiness is overwhelming. Do not count on deer whistles to be effective. They have often fallen short of the promises printed on their packaging. These whistles will not work with moose. Keep these tips in mind to avoid submitting an insurance claim. It is also important to note, that in the case you collide with a deer, moose or any other animal, it is important to call the police and file a police report. Having a police report that states you hit an animal can reduce insurance premium and out of pocket costs in the event you file a claim.