On Tuesday, our Illinois accident attorneys read an article on USAToday online about an increase in deer-related car accidents. For instance, a family of 10 passengers was driving from Chicago to New Jersey last weekend when their vehicle collided with a deer on the road. Immediately following the collision, their van was hit by a semi-truck, resulting in seven fatalities. This tragic accident brought media attention to the dangers deer pose when they are on the road.
As discussed in previous posts, fall, especially the month of November, is the season when most deer related car accidents occur. The reasoning for this is that between early fall and midwinter, deer are in mating season. The deer are on the move because they are concerned with finding a mate, and for males, fighting other male deer.
In most cases of animal related accidents, deer dart onto the road and either collide with vehicles or cause drivers to swerve. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that there are close to 1 million deer related car accidents every year, which result in about 200 fatalities, ten thousand injuries, and over $1 billion in damages to cars. Also, it was reported that, “the average collision with a deer produces more than $3,000 damage.” New studies are being conducted to better determine how to effectively place deer crossing warning signs because these signs can reduce collisions by over a third.
Because it is November, and deer are abundant and looking for mates, our Chicago car accident attorneys thought it would be beneficial to discuss how to avoid an animal collision. Some tips include staying alert on the road, so if there is a deer crossing sign, you will be sure to see it. Also, a good rule of thumb to remember is that when there is one deer, there are most likely more to come, so always slow down and use caution if you see one.
Headlights can also be a useful tool, and when it is dark, use your bright lights when possible to make the road more visible. State Farm suggests that is you spot a dear ahead of you, flash your bright lights on and off multiple times because deer will freeze in headlights, much like the old adage suggests. Flashing your brights will hopefully encourage the deer to move off the road. Should you be in a close encounter with a deer on the road, if you have enough time, slow down and start slowly braking to let the other drivers on the road know you are stopping. However, don’t stop suddenly or you risk being rear-ended. And most importantly, do not swerve. If you swerve onto oncoming traffic or off the road, you are more likely to injure yourself, so it is important to stay on the road.
As stated in some of our previous posts regarding car-animal safety, our Chicago car accident attorneys encourage drivers to be aware of deer moving when driving during the fall season. Not only can a collision with a deer cause damage to a vehicle, but it can also cause severe injury or even death, as seen in last week’s accident. Make sure to pay attention for signs signaling a deer dense area, and never swerve should an encounter with a deer occur.