Do you know what to do when you hit a deer while driving? | Something to Think About

Debbie Kulick
Something to Think About

The season seems to have finally changed. Truly we are in autumn and now the challenges of driving also change.

For the many folks who have recently moved to the Poconos, the beauty of the fall season may distract you from some of the challenges that you will have while going to and fro on your daily routine.

While hardly new to those of us who have experienced fall seasons gone by, the No. 1 challenge of autumn driving is not wet leaves as you drive— but deer.

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Yes, there is a great likelihood that you will find deer becoming more and more active during the months of October and December. The two main reasons? Mating season and hunting season. These two things have deer on the move and the chances of a near miss or worse yet, a collision with your car becomes your fall driving challenge.

For newcomers who may not have had the “deer experience” before, and a refresher for the rest of us, here are some tips to help avoid hitting a deer.

First know where they are likely to be. Start to notice where those bright yellow deer jumping signs are. Generally located near regular crossing areas. And, if you’ve seen deer there in the past, take note and keep an eye out.

columnist Debbie Kulick

Secondly, know when deer are most active. That is sunrise and sunset, dawn and dusk as it were.

A third suggestion is to use your high beams when possible. Not only will they make it easier to spot a deer or several together, but other critters as well.

Fourth, and this one is a truth or fiction one, don’t count on that deer whistle, deer fence or other “as seen on TV” item to really work, at least all the time.

The No. 5 tip, also mentioned earlier: Deer travel in groups. If you see one cross the road, there are likely more following. Take the time to slow down or stop to make sure. That couple of seconds could save you hundreds of dollars of heartache.

Insurance companies, at least mine, suggest that the sixth tip is not to swerve if you have a deer impact eminent. Hitting the deer may often be the lesser of the evils and result in less damage than potentially swerving into the other lane and causing a head-on collision or other damage.

The seventh tip goes without saying. WEAR YOUR SEATBELT. Wearing your seatbelt reduces the chances of serious injury. If you have airbags, you can know that they will help reduce the impact as well. Finally, this is information that should be passed on.

Those with young drivers should definitely share.

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You’ve followed all the tips provided, but the deer got the best of you and now you’ve hit it. What should you know now? Pulling over if you can and put on your four-way flashers is always the best advice. That’s not always possible. Call 9-1-1 if you or someone in your car is injured for sure, and to notify police. Your insurance company may need the police report to file a claim.

This is especially important if the deer is still in the middle of the road. That is another accident just waiting to happen.

Here is an important tip, stay away from the deer. A hurt deer can still lash out and injure someone. When you call 9-1-1, you can let them know if you will also need a tow truck. (Do you hear the dollar signs piling up?) Chances are, with a significant hit, you will need one.

So, remember, from October to December, deer are moving around. This is the driving challenge that no one can control, but knowledge is power as they say.

Up next? The challenge of learning to drive in snow. That one is just around the corner. (I see new tires in my future! Ugh!)

Debbie Kulick writes a weekly column for the Pocono Record's Pike Monroe Life publication and works on the frontlines as an EMT.