5 Key Reasons You’ll Hit a Deer With Your Vehicle — This November!

Data from insurance companies shows that November ranks No. 1 for most deer/vehicle collisions. Here’s why it could happen to you.

5 Key Reasons You’ll Hit a Deer With Your Vehicle — This November!

Hitting a deer with your vehicle is an unfortunate — and often dangerous — situation. While it's not always possible to predict or prevent such incidents, here are five key reasons why you might hit a deer with your vehicle, especially during November:

1. Increased Whitetail Population

It’s simple math: An increase in the deer population leads to a higher likelihood of deer/vehicle collisions. The reasons why deer numbers have increased in some areas include urban sprawl encroaching on deer habitats (and often the resulting no hunting rules in these areas), and mild winters that boost deer survival rates.

2. Seasonal Movements

Deer are more active during certain seasons, particularly in fall, and especially during the breeding season (rut), which occurs in November throughout much of whitetail country. During November, bucks are searching widely — and sometimes almost constantly — for a doe in heat, and this spike in movement increases the likelihood of deer crossing roads and getting hit by a vehicle.

Check out the chart below, which was included in a well-written and interesting story by the Minnesota Reformer. It shows that in Minnesota, drivers are approximately 10 times more likely to hit a deer with their vehicle in early November than they are during the summer. Crazy!

The numbers don't lie. Be careful when driving in November!
The numbers don't lie. Be careful when driving in November!

3. Time of Day

Whitetails, like most big game animals, are most active during dawn and dusk, which coincides with the times when driver visibility on the road is reduced. Visibility suffers because a vehicle’s headlights, even on high beams, simply aren’t as effective during dawn and dusk. Also, check out the sunrise and sunset times for November, and it generally parallels when the roads are busiest with persons driving to and from work — not a good combination.

4. Lack of Driver Awareness

Sometimes, drivers may not be aware of the presence of deer in a particular area, or they may not anticipate that a deer could suddenly appear on the road. Even though you might live a hunting lifestyle and understand the November rut and increased deer activity, it’s simply a fact that the vast majority of other drivers don’t have a clue about such matters. The same is true regarding understanding whitetail food sources.

For example, a deer hunter who is driving to or from work during dawn or dusk will likely understand that a prime food source, such as a picked cornfield in November, that is separated from woods or swamp by a busy road could increase the likelihood of deer/vehicle collisions. Of course, lack of awareness also includes not focusing on the road and the ditches 100 percent of the time while driving, and instead looking at a mapping app on the dash or on your phone, looking away from the road to reach into a fast-food bag, checking a text, etc.

5. Too Much Speed

Even when it’s completely dark and your vehicle headlights are functioning at their best, if you’re driving too fast, then it’ll be impossible to stop by the time you see a deer on the road; you’re overdriving your headlights. Too much speed is also a problem when the roads are wet or covered with snow or ice; it’ll take longer to stop. Lastly, driving fast means that your vehicle covers more roadway in the second or two it takes you to look away to check a map, grab a snack, look at your passenger, etc. Keep your eyes on the road!

Final Thoughts

To reduce the risk of deer/vehicle collisions, it's important to be alert, especially during peak deer activity times, use high beams when appropriate, and carefully watch your speed. Even if the posted speed limit is 60 mph, if the area is heavily wooded, then slow down to 55. And carefully watch the ditches for deer. If the road conditions are compromised, then slow down even further.

Don’t ignore deer crossing signs, either. They are placed in areas with a high likelihood of deer presence (based on previous deer/vehicle collisions), so paying attention to these signs can also help you be more vigilant while driving in those areas.

One last driving tip: If a deer does end up in front of your vehicle and you’re not able to slow down or stop to avoid hitting it, don’t crank the steering wheel to swerve. Doing so could cause you to hit the ditch and crash, or turn into oncoming traffic, both of which are likely to be more deadly than hitting the deer.


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