If you’ve driven in Western New York for any amount of time, you’ve probably seen a deer either standing on the side of the road or directly in the middle of it. As you approach, you need to make a split-second decision about how to handle a deer in the road. As many drivers struggle to make this decision, we put together this guide to help you understand your options and what might happen after.
Break the Trance
Deer are most active in the twilight hours and can be “stunned” by your headlights. That’s because the lights blind them, and they instinctively prefer to move when they can see. One way to break deer out of this trance is to hold your hand on the horn for a few seconds. A sudden loud sound can sometimes cause deer to leap away from danger, even if they can’t see.
For a free legal consultation, call (716) 300-5885
Whether they move or not, you should apply the brakes at the same time you honk the horn. Not only will this provide more time for the deer to get out of the way, but it will reduce the force of impact if you crash. Take care that you don’t slam the brakes. If you suddenly hit the brakes as hard as you can, especially on icy roads, you are liable to fishtail or spinout, potentially causing an even worse accident.
A Difficult Decision
Some drivers attempt to dodge the deer or drive onto the shoulder. While this may save the deer, it may also cause a much more severe crash and make it much harder to pursue an insurance claim. In fact, swerving to avoid the deer could cause more problems.
If you swerve, you may hit a tree or another driver. When that happens, your insurance may not cover the damage and you could inadvertently injure more people. Although it is difficult, New York State Police advise that you do not swerve when there is a deer in the road as it may cause further tragedy.