As urban areas continue to push outward and displace animals from their natural habitats, and as formerly empty rural lanes become plagued with traffic, collisions between cars and animals seem an almost inevitable consequence.
Here are some tips to help minimize the chances of hitting deer and other animals on the highway:
Take special care near deer or other animal crossing warning signs.
Be aware that deer adapt well to living close to humans and that populated areas are likely to have many animals around. The signs are there for a reason.
Minimize your distractions.
If your full attention is on the road, you’ll be more likely to spot approaching animals with your peripheral vision. Get in the habit of scanning the roadside as you drive.
Use your high beams whenever possible.
They will give you more time to spot and react to animals in the road.
Keep your speed down at night.
Most collisions do occur on narrow, two-lane rural highways, but they can occur on any type of road. Just because an interstate highway has animal fences doesn’t mean animals won’t get inside.
If you see one animal, expect that there are others nearby.
Keep your lane position and sound your horn while braking in a controlled manner. Sudden panic stops are not a good idea, as they could spook the animal, perhaps causing it to suddenly dart into the path of another vehicle.
Do not try to swerve around an animal!
You could lose control of your vehicle and hit a tree or another vehicle -- both potentially much worse than hitting a deer. If you swerve, there’s also a chance that the animal will panic and run into your path.
Always consider if the land along the highway could host large animals, and if you think it could, anticipate that they might run out into the road. It’s much easier to anticipate animal encounters and be ready to react calmly than to deal with the costly expenses, injuries, and guilty conscience of a collision.