How to Try to Avoid Hitting a Deer With Your Car

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission estimates there are roughly a million deer in our state. They’re especially active from October through December, which is their mating season and our deer-hunting season.

Animal-related crashes generally hover at around 20,000 each year in North Carolina, and they can cause serious injury or death to you as well as the animal. About 90% of these crashes involve deer.

What can you do to avoid becoming a statistic? Follow these 11 tips.

The Best Way to Avoid Deer While Driving ­­11 Tips

A deer before it is about to run into the road.

Here’s what the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and other roadway safety experts suggest to try to avoid colliding with a deer.

1. Proceed cautiously even after the deer is gone. Deer travel in groups; if you see one deer cross the road, others are likely nearby.

2. Slow down in posted deer-crossing areas and heavily wooded areas, especially around dawn or dusk, which is when they are most active.

3. Always wear your seat belt. Many people injured in deer-related car crashes were not wearing their seatbelt.

4. Be cautious around bridges, overpasses, railroad tracks, streams, and ditches. Crashes with deer are most common in these areas.

5. Drive with high beams on when prudent. Watch for eyes reflecting in the headlights.

6. Increase the distance between your vehicle and other cars. This is especially important at night when visibility is low. If the car ahead of you hits a deer, you may also crash.

7. If you see a deer, slow down and blow your horn with one long blast. If you’re wondering how to scare a deer away from your car, using the horn is probably the best method. You can use your headlights as well. Deer are easily mesmerized by consistent light, so flashing your lights may also help get the deer moving.

8. Do not swerve to avoid a collision with deer. This could cause you to lose control of your vehicle. You may flip your vehicle, veer it into oncoming traffic, or overcorrect and run off the road, causing a more serious crash.

9. Let off your brakes if a collision is imminent. Insurance company GEICO advises that you let off the brakes rather than slamming on them if you see you’re about to hit a deer. Braking through the impact could cause the hood of your vehicle to dip down, which can propel the animal through the windshield.

10. Do not rely on deer-related devices. There’s no proof deer whistles, deer fences, or reflectors reduce deer-vehicle crashes.

11. Do not touch the deer if you crash into it. A frightened and wounded deer can hurt you or further injure itself. Get your car safely off the road if possible and call 911 to report the accident.

‘I Hit a Deer, What Do I Do?’ — Get Evidence That a Deer Caused the Crash

Many people wonder after being involved in a deer-related accident, is hitting a deer considered an accident? The answer is yes, but you will need evidence that this is what happened.

To try to ensure your insurance claim is approved, take a photo of any evidence that shows you hit a deer, especially the deceased deer.

“I hit a deer, but it ran off!” Don’t worry, this is common, and it doesn’t mean your claim is doomed. If you see any animal skin, hair, or other parts on your car (the grill is the most likely location), get it on camera.

If you report the accident to your insurance company or if someone is injured as a result, you will need proof that you faced a “sudden emergency.”

In North Carolina (and many other states) there is a legal principle called the “sudden emergency doctrine” that can be used to defend yourself from accusations of negligence. In other words, an action that might have otherwise been negligent, might not be so if you are confronted with a surprise emergency situation.

Insurance Companies May Try Not to Pay, or Raise Rates

Sometimes, insurance companies will try to get out of paying for the damage or will seek to penalize you by raising rates.

Let’s say, for example, no one is injured (except the deer), but the front of your car is a mess. The insurance company will want proof that you actually did hit a deer, or that you swerved to avoid the deer. Otherwise, they could deny your claim.

This shouldn’t be a problem if you can provide evidence. Even though crashing as a result of a deer or any wildlife is technically considered a collision, this particular type of car accident is usually covered under your comprehensive policy. Usually, with comprehensive insurance, you don’t pay a deductible and your rates won’t go up.

But if your insurance company doesn’t see “evidence” that you hit a deer, they might make you file your car damages claim under your collision policy, which means you will pay your deductible and they could increase your rates.

Usually, there’s no need to hire a lawyer to deal with an insurance company for a car crash involving a deer. However, if the dollar value of the damage or injuries is very high and the insurance company is unwilling to pay, or if you are facing allegations of negligence, you should consider contacting an attorney.

10 Most Dangerous Intersections in North Carolina (2019)

It is a Monday morning. Everyone is coming off the weekend – some are eager to start the week, speeding along. Others are overtired and distracted, not quite giving their full attention to the road. Some are running late, rushing and careless. All of these scenarios have the potential to lead to the same result: a car accident.

While distracted, fatigued, or careless drivers are bad enough, there are intersections that pose a statistically higher risk as well.

Intersections are naturally a high-risk area and, as the statistics show, some intersections are worse than others. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), more than 50 percent of the combined total of fatal and injury crashes occur at or near intersections. And, according to 2020 crash statistics from the North Carolina Department of Transportation, nearly half of all crashes across the state happened at intersections. While more than 120,000 crashes happened at non-intersections, nearly 115,000 happened at intersections.

The biggest culprit? Almost 40,000 of intersection crashes happened at intersections with no traffic control device whatsoever. A close second was the more than 38,000 crashes that happened at stop and go signals. The third most likely traffic control tool to be a factor in a crash is the standard stop sign.

As such, drivers should take note of the most dangerous intersections in North Carolina.

A map of ten dangerous intersections in North Carolina.

 

The Top 10 Most Dangerous Intersections in North Carolina

Based on the 2019 HSIP data, the intersections in North Carolina with the highest number of crashes were as follows:

Rank Intersection County Collisions
1 US 29 at NC 24 Mecklenburg 272
2 NC 49 at SR 2827 Mecklenburg 215
3 US 17 at SR 1309 Craven 180
4 US 17 at US 17 Bus Craven 162
5 S 64 WB Couplet at US 25 Bus Henderson 162
6 US 1 at SR 3977 Wake 151
7 NC 160 at SR 5901 Mecklenburg 141
8 Corporation at New Hope – MP 3.60 Wake 131
9 NC 53 at SR 1308 Onslow 129
10 Corporation at New Hope – MP 3.76 Wake 121

Highway Safety Program and its Initiative to Help Drivers Stay Safe

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) pioneered the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) to provide precisely this type of data, with the hope of “addressing specific traffic safety concerns throughout the state.”

Through HISP, NCDOT compiled the above data from the potentially hazardous intersection locations in each county. From that, we gathered the 10 most dangerous intersections overall across the state.  While this data reflects where crashes are occurring, we are still left with one glaring question: why?

Factors Contributing to Intersection Crashes

According to a 2010 study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are several factors that contribute to intersection crashes – both related to the crashes themselves (such as traffic control, weather conditions, and pre-crash events) and the drivers.

So what can you do to avoid a crash? The study found that drivers’ errors were critical causes in 96% of crashes at intersections.  The most frequent reasons (in order from most prevalent to least) were inattentive driving, making a false assumption of other’s action, turning with an obstructed view, performing an illegal maneuver, distraction, and misjudgment of other’s speed. As such, exercising safe, attentive driving is critical.

The study also found the following characteristics to be particularly distinguishable:

  • Age: Specific driving errors were most commonly found in certain age groups. For example, intersection crashes involving those 24 and younger are most often attributed to distraction, false assumption of other’s action, or aggressive driving. Crashes involving drivers ranging in age from 25-54, on the other hand, are likely due to physical impairment (for example: sleeping, heart attack, etc.), illegal maneuvers, inattention and aggressive driving. Finally, crashes involving drivers 55 and older are often caused by inattentive driving and misjudgment of other’s speed.
  • Gender: 1% of crashes involving female drivers were at intersections, while 32.2% of crashes involving male drivers were at intersections. Furthermore, intersection crashes involving female drivers are often attributed to inattention and internal or external distractions. In contrast, crashes involving male drivers are most likely caused by illegal maneuvers, aggressive driving, or physical impairment.

North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers

 If you find yourself in a car accident – anywhere in North Carolina, intersection or not – The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin is ready to help you. We will evaluate your case for free, and we do not collect an attorney’s fee unless we get compensation for you.2

If you have been in an auto accident in North Carolina, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078.