Crashes With Deer Are on the Rise — and More Dangerous Than You Think


A century ago, the deer population in North America was nearly wiped out by overhunting. Conservation programs and hunting restrictions put in place in subsequent decades were exceedingly successful. As a result, deer populations have rebounded. As a consequence, incidents of automobiles hitting deer have been rising steadily in New Jersey and elsewhere. According to an insurance industry report, motorists across the country collided with deer more than 1.4 million times in a 12-month period ending in June 2021.

Accidents involving deer are often serious and sometimes fatal. A strike at highway speed can put a deer through a windshield, resulting in the passengers suffering severe injury or death. Also, deer in the roadway may cause a driver to lose control of a vehicle while swerving to avoid a deer strike or to recover from an impact. In early November, a motorcyclist was killed in a collision with a deer on Route 4, a busy highway in Bergen County. Collisions with deer also cause millions of dollars in damage to vehicles each year.

Deer strikes occur most often in late summer and early autumn, which is known as the rutting season, when deer are seeking mates. About 75 percent of these accidents occur at night.

To minimize the chances of a deer strike, drivers should:

  • Watch for deer crossing signs — These mark travel paths frequented by migrating deer.
  • Slow down — Drive more slowly to allow more time to react, especially between dusk and dawn, when deer are often on the move.
  • Watch the roadsides — Deer often congregate on grassy areas and in shrubs by the side of the road. Deer typically travel in groups, so be on the lookout for more than one.
  • Use high beams — When driving at night on roads without streetlights, using your high beams can allow you to see farther ahead.
  • Use the horn — While deer are often mesmerized by intense lighting (hence the expression “deer in the headlights”), a long blast of the car horn can easily scare them off.

If you hit a deer, take the following steps:

  • Move off the road to a safe area.
  • Call the police so that they can manage traffic and clear the deer from roadway and so you can get a police report for insurance purposes.
  • Assess the condition of your vehicle. Deer strike damage often renders a car inoperable.
  • Seek prompt medical attention for yourself or any passengers who may be hurt.
  • Call an experienced auto accident attorney, who can help you with potential claims for compensation for your injuries and damages.

Based in Ridgewood, Seigel Law has been protecting injured motorists in New Jersey since 1976. Our highly experienced team of personal injury attorneys and support staff work tirelessly to make sure that clients receive the compensation they deserve. If you were involved in any type of vehicular accident, feel free to contact us online or call 201-444-4000 for a free initial consultation.

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