14 October 2020

Because deer-vehicle crashes increase during the autumn months, AAA is advising motorists to be safe on roadways where deer could be encountered.

Car-deer crashes are a year-round problem, but hunting, harvest and mating season combine to increase movement of deer between October and December. Thousands of deer are struck by motorists every year in North Dakota.

Because deer activity peaks each day near dawn and just after dusk, AAA advises drivers—especially those on a motorcycle -- to reduce speed and watch carefully for deer when driving near creeks, wooded areas or open fields where deer graze on harvest grain.  When a deer is spotted, assume there will be others that follow.  Deer often appear disoriented or confused by a vehicle’s headlights and often suddenly change directions. If there is other traffic on the road, activate your emergency flashers and tap your brakes to alert other drivers to the potential danger.

“Staying alert and expecting an encounter with deer is the best way to avoid hitting one,” said Gene LaDoucer, North Dakota director of public affairs for AAA-The Auto Club Group. “Avoid distractions and focus on the road and surroundings. If you have a passenger, ask them to help scan ditches, fields and roadsides.”

Motorist Tips

  • Watch for deer during dawn and dusk when most deer-vehicle crashes occur.
  • Deer are herd animals. If you see one, there are likely more in the area.
  • Don’t veer for deer. It’s safer to hit the deer than head into oncoming traffic or off the road.
  • Deer are unpredictable. Slow down, blow your horn and stop if the deer stays on the road.

Motorcyclist Tips

  • Only ride during daylight hours and avoid dusk and dawn.
  • Cover the brakes to reduce your reaction time.
  • If a crash is imminent and enough space exists to get around the deer without leaving the roadway, use maximum braking and just before impact, attempt to swerve around the deer in the opposite direction the deer is traveling.
  • Keep head and eyes up to improve chances of keeping the bike up if a crash is about to occur.
  • If riding in a group, spread out to avoid multiple collisions.
  • Wear full protective gear including a DOT-approved helmet.

According to the North Dakota Highway Patrol, motorists who strike a deer or other undomesticated animal do not need to report the crash to law enforcement if the crash results in property damage only, regardless of the amount of damage to the vehicle. If the vehicle is disabled, law enforcement will respond to provide assistance. If someone is injured as a result of the crash, law enforcement must be contacted.