Imagine, you are driving down the road when, suddenly, a deer jumps out in front of your vehicle. Should you swerve? Should you brake? Should you hit the deer?
Erin Tolbert, A Georgia Farm Bureau Insurance Claims Reporting Supervisor, says it’s best to stay on the road and in your lane, even if it means hitting the animal.
“While striking an animal is dangerous, it is a much safer bet than swerving and risking losing control of your vehicle,” said Tolbert.
It’s not just deer or property affected, many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or lose control of their car. These accidents can be fatal and staying in your lane and hitting the animal is also better from an insurance perspective—you are taking control of the situation.
“If you were to swerve to miss an animal and hit a ditch, a sign, roll your vehicle, etc., then that is considered a collision loss and damages are likely to be much worse,” said Tolbert.
Should you lose control of the vehicle or strike someone else’s property, you will be held responsible (considered “at-fault”) and will need to file on your collision coverage. If you maintain control, stay on the road and hit the animal, it is not considered to be “at-fault” and is filed on your comprehensive coverage. Colliding with something (whether you can help it or not) it is considered a collision claim unless it’s a bird or animal.
Reducing speed and maintaining a constant lookout for animals is the best way to avoid collisions. Travel at a speed that will allow you to stop in time if a deer comes into the beam cast by your headlights.
Deer are most active at dawn and dusk and are typically seen roadside during the early morning and late evening, which is also the same time most people are commuting to and from work. UGA researchers looked at breeding data and compared it to deer-vehicle collision statistics in the state in a county-by-county analysis of peak times for possible deer-vehicle collisions. Be sure to search the map for the areas you travel in often.
When driving at night, use high beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic. The high beams will better illuminate the eyes of any deer on or near the roadway. If you encounter a deer, switch your headlights to low beam so that the animals are not blinded and will move out of your way.
Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path, but stay in your lane.
Deer whistles, deer fences and reflectors to deter deer have not proven to be effective.
If a sudden road incident happens to you, call 855-432-2567 to report your claim.
Coverage and discounts are subject to qualifications and policy terms and may vary by situation.