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Colorado is not as bad as some states when it comes to the likelihood of hitting a deer. Nonetheless, according to State Farm Insurance, there is a 1 in 209 chance that you will hit a deer as one of the nearly two million animal-vehicle collisions each year. The numbers jump in the fall because the deer are rutting and very active. Recent years have also seen an uptick in the number of deer spotted in urban areas–reasons for this include more food in the city, less habitat and less hunting pressure.

A collision with a deer can cause a substantial amount of damage to a car or truck, particularly if they are traveling at highway speeds. The real danger is not vehicle damage or the animal’s injury or death; instead, it is the driver’s response to seeing the deer in their headlights.

In trying to avoid hitting the deer or other animal, the driver may cross over into oncoming traffic, hit a bridge or road-related structure, or lose control of the vehicle. The response can lead to the severe injury or death of drivers and passengers in one or more vehicles.

Don’t veer to miss the deer

Along with not swerving out of your lane, other tips for safely avoiding the deer without causing harm to vehicle occupants include:

  • Stay alert: Deer crossing signs are there for a reason but keeping eyes on the road is key for avoiding accidents. Also, keep in mind that they are unpredictable and may take action that is counter to their safety.
  • Use high beams: High beams are helpful at night to identify obstacles, but flicking those lights can also prompt them to run off.
  • Brake when necessary: Reduce your speed when spotting deer but start braking by tapping the pedal rather than slamming on your brakes, which may lead to being hit by cars behind you.
  • Dawn and dusk: These are the two busiest times for deer and many other animals.
  • They travel in groups: Spotting one animal usually means others are nearby.
  • Whistles: There is no scientific proof that deer whistles sold in stores work.

Other drivers can cause injuries

Errors in judgment made by other drivers regarding deer can cause severe injury or even death to victims. The negligent party did not put the deer on the road, but a reckless response to the animal can lead to additional harm to others and even a personal injury lawsuit.