When the rut is on, drivers should beware.
The so-called "rut" is the annual mating season for whitetail deer, stretching from October through December in Indiana. This is the time when deer populations are most active and when they are most likely to be involved in accidents with cars.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, accidents involving deer or other large animals account for close to 200 human deaths every year. They estimate that there are over a million deer-vehicle collisions each year. Missing from these statistics are the hundreds of thousands of personal injuries sustained by people involved in deer-related incidents.
The farms and fields of the Midwest are a haven for deer herds. Car-deer accidents are less problematic in urban environments than along the country lanes that crisscross Indiana.
Your Risk of Hitting a Deer in Indiana
According to data from the Indiana Department of Transportation, there were over 15,000 deer-related accidents in Indiana in 2019. These accidents can result in property damage, injuries, and even fatalities. To compound the problem, deer are primarily nocturnal, preferring dusk to dawn for their activity; these hours of decreased visibility are also the most dangerous for drivers.
Because deer are wild animals, they cannot be held liable for causing accidents with vehicles. If you've been involved in an accident with a deer as a driver, you have almost no chance of winning a recovery. Many people who have been injured as a passenger in a crash involving a deer wonder whether they might be entitled to a recovery. The answer is: maybe.
The only way to determine whether or not you would be able to make a recovery from your injuries is by contacting an experienced Indiana injury attorney. Deer-related accidents can be very complicated. They are far from the day-to-day crashes often seen on our highways.
Take Precautions to Avoid a Collision With a Deer
To reduce the likelihood of striking a deer with your vehicle, take the following precautions:
- Respect deer crossing signs—they are there for a reason. These signs are often placed in high-incident areas.
- Special caution should be given between the hours of 6 and 9 p.m., as this is when deer are most active.
- Use your high beam lights as much as possible at night to help illuminate areas where deer may cross or enter roadways.
- Remember that deer often travel in herds. When you see one, there is a strong likelihood more are in the immediate area.
- Don't put faith in car-mounted deer whistles. They don't work.
- Remember, if a collision seems unavoidable, attempting to swerve out of the way may cause you to lose control of your vehicle or place you in the path of oncoming traffic.
- Always be aware, slow down, and use your peripheral vision. You'll reduce your chances of being involved in a deer-related collision.
- Their sheer unpredictability make deer among the most dangerous hazards on the roadway. Take every measure possible to protect yourself and your family.
If you do collide with a deer while driving, be sure to move your vehicle to a safe location if possible and call the police to report the accident. Do not try to approach or touch the deer, as it may be injured and may become aggressive.