What to do when there’s a deer in your headlights

On Behalf of | Oct 1, 2021 | Personal Injury

Deer season is here once again in Ohio, and that means one thing: Your odds of getting into a wreck with a deer just got higher.

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) and the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS), the peak mating season for deer runs from October through November. That means more deer are on the move than usual — and some of them may wander right into your path out there on a rural road.

Deer-vehicle crashes are very common in this state

Not every wreck gets reported, but OSHP says that there were at least 17,688 deer-vehicle crashes in Ohio in 2020, which resulted in 857 injuries and three deaths. At least 55 of the reported injuries were classified as “serious.” 

That’s why state officials are urging caution right now. They say drivers need to be particularly careful when they see a “Deer Crossing” sign because that indicates that the area is known for active wildlife. Drivers are encouraged to be particularly alert near dawn and dusk when deer are most likely to be traveling.

If you do see deer by the road, slow down. Remember, also, that if you see one deer, more are likely to follow. 

Know how to respond when a deer is actually in your path

Despite your best efforts, you may still turn a bend or crest a hill and find a deer right in your path. If that happens, do your best to stop the car before impact — but do not swerve into the opposite lane or drive off the road.

Many rural areas have few guardrails, so swerving off the road can cause your vehicle to go over the side and roll over, and that could easily be fatal. Swerving into the opposite lane could propel you right into the path of an oncoming driver — and that could be disastrous for you both.

If you end up in a crash with another driver who reacted on instinct when they saw a deer in the road, focus on your recovery above all. You can find out more about your right to compensation for your losses later.