In Montana, it is easy to spot wildlife from the road in nearly every part of the state. However, it is also too easy to encounter wildlife on the road as well. A staggering number of individuals are either killed or injured annually in car accidents that involve collisions with animals. This deer season, it is critical that Montana motorists understand how to stay safe when encountering a deer in the road.
One critical safety tip may seem counterintuitive. Quite simply, drivers should never veer for deer. This simple reminder emphasizes the point that swerving for deer is often far more dangerous than hitting them straight-on. Though you may wish to avoid colliding with an animal in your path, swerving can force your car or truck to move beyond your control. You may hit oncoming motorists or pedestrians, you may fly off the road and you may end up flipping your vehicle. Though it may seem scary and/or cruel, it is ultimately safer to hit a deer than to swerve in order to avoid it.
With that said, there are ways that you can better avoid having to hit a deer head-on. First, do not speed. If you operate your vehicle at safer speeds, you will be more likely to brake safely if you encounter a deer some distance ahead of your vehicle. Also, limit your driving during evening hours, as that is when deer tend to be at their most active. Finally, use your high-beams whenever they will not impair the visual field of other drivers.
Source: Office of Traffic Safety, “Don’t Veer for Deer”