Knowing what to do if you hit a deer with your car is a skill no one wants to acquire. Anyone who lives in a rural area knows that the risk of hitting a deer is real. In autumn during the rut or mating season, the deer are very active and on the move. Dusk is their favorite time, and it’s notoriously difficult for drivers to see well at that time of day. A deer’s eyes have more rods than cones, making them able to see well at night just like a cat. When a deer sees the headlights of a car it blinds them, and they freeze, waiting for their eyes to adjust. That’s where the term “like a deer in the headlights” comes from. They don’t stand there out of stupidity; it’s their natural reaction to the stimulant, much to their detriment. Don’t think that a deer is going to move if you catch it in your headlights; you’ll likely hit it. Read on to learn what to do if you hit a deer with your car.
Slow Down and Pull Over
You made impact and hit the deer. Now what? Take your foot off the gas and slow the car gradually. Don’t panic and slam on the brakes—that will only make things worse. Keep the vehicle on the road but pull to the side so that other traffic can pass, and you are out of danger. Put your hazard lights on and take a deep breath and calm your nerves because your heart will be racing at this point.
Check the Damage
After you calm down and have assessed your own health and well-being, get out and check the car. The front end of the car will have taken most of the damage. If the deer is nearby, check from a safe distance to see if it’s still alive. Don’t get too close because if it’s still alive, it will be badly injured and frightened of you and could injure you in defense.
Call the Police
If there are no injuries to you or any passengers, call the local police non-emergency line instead of 911. Of course, if you need medical attention, call 911. The police will come out and make a report of the incident. You’ll need this later for the insurance company. The police will use their squad car to alert oncoming drivers to the scene and keep you safe. They can also call a tow truck for your vehicle if needed.
Call Your Insurance Company
When you are done with the police it’s time to get the insurance claim started. Call your insurance company and tell them that you’ve hit a deer with your car. They will want to know if the car left the road, if there was a police report made and the report number, and other details. They can assist with finding a mechanic, securing a tow truck, and getting you a rental car, if needed.
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