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Tips for Avoiding Deer on Wisconsin’s Icy Roads

Deer-related accidents on Wisconsin’s icy roads are a common and dangerous occurrence, especially during the winter. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WI-DOT), deer-vehicle crashes (DVCs) are considered a primary road safety concern for road users in the state, with a yearly average of over 19,000 collisions from 2016 to 2020.

Collisions with a deer can result in costly damages to your vehicle. Discover what time of year deer-vehicle crashes are most common, how to avoid hitting deer, and what steps to follow if your car strikes one.

Contact Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers if you are injured in an accident due to another driver swerving to avoid a deer.

The Dangers of Deer on the Road

Knowing when and where you will most likely encounter a deer is essential to preventing a potential deer-vehicle collision. Deer are most active during and around the months of their mating season, known as the rut.

For white-tailed deer, the most common deer species in Wisconsin, the rut typically lasts from October until December. However, many deer may remain active as late as January or February.

Although deer may cross any type of road, from rural roads to interstate highways, they are crepuscular animals, which means they are most active in twilight hours. When driving, you are more likely to encounter deer on the road around dawn and dusk.

Roads that have been recently salted are also more likely to attract deer, as they may stop to lick the salt on the asphalt to supplement their diet.

Tips for Avoiding Deer on Icy Roads

The Insurance Information Institute (III) determined Wisconsin has the 4th highest likelihood of collision with an animal. Deer-related crashes, whether directly from a deer or due to swerving and hitting another vehicle, can cost thousands in property damage and injury expenses.

To avoid the costly consequences of a deer-vehicle crash, consider these tips:

  • Remain Alert

One of the best ways to prevent a deer collision is to remain alert and attentive. Look for deer crossing signs and keep your eyes focused on the road, especially during the deer’s most active hours. If you are driving at sunrise (dawn) or sunset (dusk), watch for deer activity near the side of the road, especially in low terrain or near smaller creeks and rivers.

  • Drive Slowly

Deer rarely travel alone. If you see or pass a deer on the road, it is likely part of a pack traveling in the area. This increases the chances of seeing multiple deer crossing the road. Reducing your vehicle speed will give you more time to see them and stop or calmly pull over if they begin to cross.

  • Keep Your Headlights On

It is legal to use your high beams on unlit roads in Wisconsin at any time of the day, as long as you dim them down within 500 feet of another vehicle (WL 347.12). If there is no oncoming traffic, keep your headlights on whenever possible and use your high beams. The light will reflect off the surface of a deer’s eyes, allowing you to spot them more easily.

  • Use Your Horns

While headlights may help you see deer better, bright lights tend to blind deer, causing them to remain frozen in place. Honk your horn in one long, continuous blast. The loud sound should scare the deer off the road. You can also use deer whistles or other loud tools like ultrasonic devices to scare a deer away.

  • Brake, Don’t Swerve

If a collision appears imminent, do not attempt to swerve and drive around it. Frightened deer move in highly unpredictable patterns and may suddenly run or jump in any direction, including toward your vehicle. Swerving suddenly also puts you at risk of hitting another car on the road.

Instead, be prepared to brake, to a complete stop if necessary, until the deer leaves the road on its own.

What to Do if You Hit a Deer

If your vehicle strikes a deer, WI-DOT recommends drivers follow these steps:

  • Move your vehicle off the road as safely as possible.
  • Call law enforcement and describe your current location.
  • Remain inside your vehicle until law enforcement arrives.
  • If the deer is still alive, do not attempt to move it because it risks injuring you.
  • Report the crash on the WI-DOT website or by contacting your local police precinct.

Seek Legal Assistance with Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers

If another driver’s negligence caused you to get into an accident, help is available at Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers. Our skilled and compassionate Wisconsin car accident lawyers have achieved extraordinary results representing car crash victims by negotiating for a fair settlement and representing them in court. 

Contact us to discuss the specifics of your case at no cost with one of our attorneys.

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