What Do You Do If You Hit a Deer?
June 18, 2018
There are an estimated 45,000 large-animal collisions in Canada every year.
Most of these are deer.
In Ottawa alone, we have approximately 1,000 wildlife collisions a day. 95% of them are caused by - you guessed it - deer.
We did the math: that’s about 3 deer collisions a day just in Ottawa!
Most drivers aren’t prepared to encounter a deer, and wind up with broken windshields, serious vehicle damage, or worse.
The real question is: do you know what to do if you hit a deer?
1. Find a Safe Place to Pull Over
When you hit a deer, the first thing to do is to make sure that you’re physical and mentally able to navigate safely to the side of the road. This helps reduce the chance that another accident will occur.
Remember to turn on your 4-way flashers to alert other drivers to slow down and take extra caution.
2. Check Yourself and Your Passengers for Injuries
If you or your passengers have been injured in any way, call for emergency services immediately. Don’t try to move anyone, especially if you believe they’ve suffered a neck or head injury.
3. Call the Police and Your Insurance Company
Once you’ve confirmed that you’re not injured, you should call both the police and your insurance company right away. The police will be able to help clean up the scene, prevent further accidents, and complete a report for you.
4. Take Photos of Any Damage That Occurred
Your insurance company is going to want pictures confirming the cause of the collision. While the police will take photos as well, take your own photos as well. You’ll be able to capture everything sooner than the police, and you’ll have them with you when you’re arranging for repairs.
5. Get In Touch with a Tow Truck
You’ll want to make arrangements to get your car to a garage.
Bemac has a towing hotline that is 24/7, and we service the entire Greater Ottawa area.
Save this number in your phone under ‘Towing’ for emergencies: 613-728-1908
What If the Deer Is Hurt, or Runs Away?
Many times, hitting a deer results in the deer being injured or running away. If that’s the case, you need to do the following things:
1. Do Not Approach It
It’s tempting to run to an animal in need, but deer are incredibly dangerous. Whatever state the deer is in, you should not approach it. Instead, proceed to step 2.
If the deer has already run off, mark the spot where it was hit, and inform the police.
2. Contact a Wildlife Organization
In Ontario, wildlife rehabilitators are authorized by the Ministry of Natural Resources. You can find a complete list here >
As of 2018, you can also contact the City of Ottawa at 3-1-1 to report sick or injured animals.
In all cases, you should share all the details you have about the deer with the police.
Should You Try and Swerve, or Hit the Deer?
Many drivers are confronted with a deer and instantly wonder: should I try and swerve, or should I hit it?
While your instinct is to try and swerve, that is very dangerous: you could cause a multi-vehicle accident. In fact, more collisions are caused because a driver swerved.
If you can avoid hitting the deer by slowing down and braking, do so. But only if there is not one behind you.
Tip: Lay on the horn. It may scare the deer off the road.
If the deer doesn’t move, and you won’t be able to safely stop, prepare yourself for a collision.
What About Moose?
Moose aren’t as common in Ottawa, but we still have them. Because of their large size and increased tonnage, they’re even more dangerous to drivers.
If you see a moose on the road, you need to do the following things:
- Maintain a strong grip on the steering wheel.
- Use your horn - it may scare them away.
- If you can, apply the brakes - but don’t try to swerve into the other lane. You should also do your best to put on your 4-way flashers to alert other drivers to the danger.
Myth: You should speed up if you’re going to hit an animal. This is not safe, but was a widely circulated belief. Thanks to a Mythbusters investigation (and a rubber moose named Lucy), they were able to confirm that it is much safer to slow down as much as possible before hitting a moose, deer, or other large mammals.
Will My Insurance Go Up If I Hit a Deer?
This is dependent on your individual policy.
In many cases, a deer collision will be claimed under your comprehensive coverage, in which case you would not see an increase in your insurance rates.
We’ll help you with the insurance claims process, but we recommend speaking directly with your provider or referring to your policy for more details.
How Do I Avoid Hitting a Deer While Driving?
When you get behind the wheel, keep the following safety tips in mind.
1. Stay Off the Road Between Dusk and Dawn
Deer are most active at dusk and dawn. If you can, limit your driving to peak daylight hours.
2. Stick to the Speed Limit
If you’re speeding, you greatly reduce your chances of avoiding a collision. Always follow the posted limit.
3. Focus on the Road
Distracted driving is right up there with speeding when it comes to causes of collisions.
When you’re behind the wheel, focus 100% on being a safe and responsible driver.
4. Use Your High Beams On Rural Roads
You’re much more likely to see deer on rural roads if you use your high beams. Just make sure you turn them off when drivers are approaching from the other direction.
5. If You See One Deer, Plan on Seeing More
Deer do not often travel alone. If you happen to see one on the side of the road, keep your eyes peeled for more.
6. Pay Attention to Deer-Crossing Signs
These signs are up for a reason - even if you can’t see any deer at the time, they’re often spotted in the area.
7. Honk That Horn
Your horn isn’t just for other drivers - it’s also good for scaring away animals.
8. Don’t Rely on Deer Whistles
Many drivers have been seduced by deer whistles that you can mount on your car. When your car is motion at a certain speed, air passing through the whistle is supposed to generate sound that scares away deer.
There is no real data to prove that deer whistles work. Having one does not mean you can now pay less attention to the road and your surroundings.
We’ll Make Your Collision Repairs
Whether it was a deer, another driver, or bad luck, we can address all your collision repair needs.
Our state of the art facility, experienced team of collision-repair technicians, and streamlined insurance approval process means we’ll get your car ready to roll again as soon as possible.
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