Deer Auto Collisions By the Numbers

Millions of deer and car collision accidents happen every year, causing damages ranging from broken headlights to total wrecks.

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Last Updated: 9/20/2022
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Deer Accident Statistics

Knowing deer and auto collision statistics can keep you safe while driving. For example, when driving during dusk — a well-known deer crossing time of the day — staying aware of your surroundings can help you avoid colliding with a deer on the highway. Being aware of the risks, extent of damage and safety precautions can prevent a deer-car accident from ever occurring.

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States With the Highest and Lowest Risks

Depending on the state you live in, you may have higher risks of being involved in a deer-car accident. Based on average rates, West Virginia is the state with the highest risk, where one in 37 individuals will encounter a collision with a deer in the state. Following West Virginia, these states make up the top five riskiest states in the U.S.:

  • Missouri: One in 47
  • Pennsylvania: One in 51
  • South Dakota: One in 53
  • Iowa: One in 58

On the other hand, Washington, D.C. has the lowest risk. It has a one in 816 odds of a car to deer collision. In addition to Washington, D.C., these states make up the top five least risky states in the U.S. for a deer-car collision:

  • Hawaii: One in 649
  • Nevada: One in 551
  • California: One in 427
  • Arizona: One in 416

The Most Dangerous Times for Animal Collisions

The rate of animal collisions may vary greatly depending on the season and time of day. For instance, deer encounters on highways and roads will differ based on the animal’s behavior and movement. Additionally, driver behavior may also have an impact on accident cycles.

The Most Dangerous Seasons

The risk of colliding with a deer increases during autumn. It peaks from the last week of October through the first weeks of November. In comparison, the number of recorded deer-car accidents during this season is four times higher than the incidents that happen during spring.

The Most Dangerous Times

The time of day plays a role in the number of deer collisions. The most dangerous times are at dusk and dawn. The highest hourly rate occurs during dusk and the second peak happens at dawn. These are the times when deer are most active. Additionally, the ability of drivers to spot animals during these times is the poorest.

The moon’s phase showed an impact on the frequency of collisions. Based on studies, most deer-car accidents happen during a full moon. The number peaks at the time when the moon is the brightest. That is because deer tend to move greater distances when nights are highly illuminated. This means they are more likely to enter roadways.

How to Avoid a Deer Collision

Taking safety precautions can help you avoid a deer collision whenever you’re on the road. By being attentive, practicing defensive driving and knowing how to spot dangers can help keep you safe.

1

Recognize peak deer hours

Stay alert and be mindful of potential risk during peak deer hours. While they may be active at any time of the day, most deer-car accidents happen at dusk. Dawn is also a hazardous time for deer crossings. If you have to drive during these times, make sure to pay extra attention to the road and your surroundings.

2

Pay attention to signs and warnings

Areas with usual deer sightings have deer crossing signs, including places where roads divide agricultural areas and forests. Watch for these and remain aware while traveling on them. That said, even if there are no warning signs, you should remain watchful. It is important to note that many car accidents occur because of distracted driving.

3

Stay in the center lane

If you are on a road with multiple lanes, the safest way to avoid a deer-car accident is to stay in the center lane. You will have more time to react if a deer suddenly appears on the road. Make sure to check traffic laws to see if you are allowed to drive in the center lane.

4

Use your car’s headlights

Your headlights will help you see better in the dark and illuminate the road for any obstructions. Watch for yellow diamond signs with deer drawings. Keep an eye out for bright spots and keep in mind that the eyes of a deer will reflect your headlights.

5

Use high beams if possible

If you are driving at night and there is no oncoming traffic, turn on your high beams. These will help you spot animals more clearly, especially if they are on the road ahead. It will also allow you to see deer grazing or standing along the side of the road.

6

Watch out for more deer

Deer usually travel in packs and are seldom alone. If you see a deer, chances are there are more nearby. Slow down and stay alert for more deer that may appear or cross the road.

7

Wear your seatbelt

It is a must to wear a seatbelt at all times. Doing this will help prevent severe injuries in the event of a collision.

8

Press your brakes firmly and blow your horn

Reduce your speed when you see a deer near your path. Tap your brakes so that you can warn other drivers behind you. If there are no other vehicles behind, brake firmly and hard. Honk your horn, too. One long blast may be enough to scare the deer out of the road.

9

Do not swerve

Even if it is the driver’s first instinct to move away from the deer, it is safer to stay in your lane while reducing your speed. Swerving away from it could lead to a more serious accident. You may end up colliding with another vehicle. If it is not possible to avoid the deer, let your car strike it. If you are moving slowly, it could lead to less damage and prevent serious injuries.

An illustration of a couple trying to figure out what to do after hitting a deer with their car.

What to Do if You've Hit a Deer

Getting in a car accident can be a confusing and stressful time, but it’s important to immediately ensure your safety and that of the people involved. There are various steps to take to manage the aftermath of an accident.

  1. Determine if you or anyone around is injured. Check the well-being and potential injuries of your passengers and yourself after the collision and seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
  2. Do not approach the deer. If the deer is nearby, it is likely scared and wounded. This can make it more defensive and potentially dangerous.
  3. Move your vehicle. If possible, move your car to a safer area and away from traffic.
  4. Turn on your hazard lights. This will help inform other drivers that there is a problem and to slow down.
  5. Call 911 and report the accident. Inform the operator that you’ve hit a deer, report any known injuries and tell them if the animal is still on the road.
  6. Check your vehicle. If you can move and are not injured, check your vehicle for damages.
  7. Document the accident. Take photos or videos if possible of your vehicle, your injuries, the road and tire skid marks.

After taking the necessary steps to ensure your safety after a car accident, contact your insurance provider. Note the following points to help guide your discussion with them:

  • Verify the coverage of your auto insurance policy. For example, a comprehensive auto insurance policy will cover all damages you incur from a deer car accident. But collision coverage only covers damages if you collide with an inanimate object.
  • Ask them about the claim process.
  • Find out how much your deductible is. This is the amount you will pay out of pocket. Depending on state laws and your policy, your insurance rates may increase after an accident.
An illustration of a man looking up questions about his deer collision while his girlfriend is leaning behind him.

Animal Collisions FAQs

Learning deer collision statistics and safety precautions can help you prevent deer-car accidents. MoneyGeek answers some of the frequently asked questions to give you more insight on the topic.

Expert Insights

Getting in a deer collision accident can be a stressful and painful experience, but knowing what to do if it happens can help you reduce your anxiety after the incident. MoneyGeek spoke with industry leaders to provide expert insight.

  1. Is it possible for insurance companies to deny my claim for damages caused by a deer-car accident?
  2. What do you think is the best car insurance policy that will provide the most protection against possible accidents, including deer collisions? Why is that?
David Adler
David Adler

President and Owner of Adler Insurance Group

Jared Staver
Jared Staver

Personal Injury Attorney and Founding Attorney at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C.

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About the Author


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Nathan Paulus is the director of content marketing at MoneyGeek. Nathan has been creating content for nearly 10 years and is particularly engaged in personal finance, investing, and property management. He holds a B.A. in English from the University of St. Thomas Houston.


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