Deer are graceful animals, and people often pull off to the side of the road if they happen to spot a flock frolicking in a snowy field or munching on downed apples in an orchard. It can be a beautiful experience to witness deer playing in their natural environment.
However, deer near roadways are a major source of crash risk for drivers in Indiana. Deer spooked by predators, hunters or other vehicles often behave in erratic manners and can dash out into the road in front of the vehicles, causing major collisions.
Why are car-deer crashes such a serious safety concern for Indiana drivers?
Deer are often active when the roads are at their worst
Scientists call deer crepuscular animals. That means they are often most active during the dawn and dusk hours. Those are already times of day when drivers have elevated crash risk due to changing light levels.
People are also more likely to encounter deer on the roads during times of inclement weather, especially in the late fall and early winter. Drivers, already distracted by blustery conditions, may not be able to stop in time when they spot a deer.
Whitetail deer can do major damage
The average whitetail deer only weighs around 100 pounds for a female. While big bucks can easily reach up to 150 pounds, your vehicle weighs many times more. Still, even when you strike an average size doe, the deer can cause massive damage to the vehicle and to the occupants. There have been cases where deer go through the windshields, which can lead to severe trauma for the people in the vehicle.
There are ways to reduce your risk of a collision with a large animal, including minimizing when you are on the road in rural areas at times of day when the animals are most active and using high beams when traveling on rural roads without any visible oncoming traffic to help you better spot animals near the edge of the road.
Car-deer collisions can also be a challenge because they can result in complicated insurance claims. Having help dealing with the insurance company may improve your chance of getting appropriate coverage after a car crash involving a deer.