Deer collision advisory

deer in headlights

In 2016, there were about 1.5 million deer-related collisions. About 200 of these crashes result in fatalities. There are about 10,000 injuries and around 4 billion dollars in property damage annually. Ambulances are not immune. There is a case history in the NAEMT Safety Course which describes a fatality which occurred when the driver swerved to miss a deer. Last year a driver had a 1 in 164 chance of hitting a deer, up from 1 in 167 during the previous reporting period. Here are the states with the highest risk:

1 in 87           
Up 1.1%


  1 in 85   Up 17.6%


  1 in 85
  185 deer crashed per day


  1 in 80
  1M white-tailed deer 


  1 in 77
  Deer in 16% of all crashes 

South Dakota

  1 in 70
  Up 4.3% 


  1 in 68


  1 in 67
  Up 4.5% 


  1 in 58   Up 19%

West Virginia

  1 in 41   Up 5.4% 


Living in a state that is not “high risk” doesn’t make you safe. It is estimated that there are around 30 million deer in the United States. Urban growth encroaches upon the forests in which deer like to live, resulting in habitat fragmentation.  The likelihood for deer encounters increases. Areas that are sparsely populated with roads built along rivers, lakes, mountains, or plains are attractive foraging sites for deer. That makes them dangerous sites too. November, October, and December are the months in which deer car collisions occur most frequently, but they can occur anytime.

Forty percent of deer car crashes occur between the hours of 06:00-08:00 and 18:00-20:00. Deer have a tendency to travel in herds. They freeze when startled.  Deer are on all roads and behave unpredictably. Deer season gives us a great opportunity to practice our defensive driving skills. To avoid a deer-vehicle crash, think about the following:

  • Use extra caution at dawn and dusk.
  • Scan roads and roadsides ahead.
  • Reduce speed at night and use high beams when they can be used safely.
  • Slow down when approaching moose, deer, or elk standing in the roadside. They may jump in front of you.
  • Deer, moose, and elk travel in pairs or groups. If you see one, anticipate others.
  • Briefly use flashers or a headlight signal to alert other drivers when creatures are spotted on or near roadways.
  • Be aware of the areas with the greatest likelihood of deer.
  • Don’t rely on devices like deer whistles, extra lights, or reflectors. Your best defense is intelligent driving.
  • If a deer crash is unavoidable, keep both hands on the steering wheel . Brake firmly (slow down) and do not swerve (stay in your lane).


deer in headlights
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