What To Do If You Hit A Deer With Your Vehicle In Minnesota
While you can hit a deer with your vehicle at any time of the year, November is deer mating season, which means it's the time of year when deer are most active and it's when the most deer-vehicle crashes occur in Minnesota.
Because an estimated two-thirds of deer-vehicle crashes go unreported, it's hard to
It's hard to know exactly how many deer-vehicle crashes have occurred over the past few years.
However, the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety says there were 8,284 reported deer-vehicle crashes in Minnesota over a seven-year period from 2016 to 2022, resulting in 27 deaths and 1,483 injuries. It's important to note that motorcyclists accounted for a significant number of deaths and those who suffered serious injuries.
Therefore, before we get into what to do if you hit a deer in Minnesota, it's important to know the things you can do to avoid even getting into a deer-vehicle crash.
While accidents can still happen to the most cautious drivers, following these tips can help reduce the chance of a deer-vehicle crash:
- Drive at safe speeds and always be buckled up.
- Be especially cautious from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., when deer are most active.
- Use high beams as much as possible at night, especially in deer-active areas.
- Don’t count on deer whistles or deer fences to deter deer from crossing roads.
- Watch for the reflection of deer eyes and for deer silhouettes on the shoulder of the road. If anything looks slightly suspicious, slow down.
- Slow down in areas known to have a large deer population, such as areas where roads divide agricultural fields from forest land; and whenever in forested areas between dusk and dawn.
- Remember, deer do unpredictable things. They stop in the middle of the road when crossing; cross and quickly re-cross back; and move toward an approaching vehicle. Blow horn to urge deer to leave the road. Stop if the deer stays on the road, don’t try to go around it.
How you should handle a deer in your path depends on what you are driving. If you're in a car or truck, do not swerve. If you swerve, you're more likely to drive into oncoming traffic or go off the road. Instead, brake and hit the deer. It may go against your instincts, but it gives you a better chance at survival.
Motorcyclists should avoid night and low-light riding periods altogether. A rider’s best response when encountering a deer is to use both brakes for maximum braking and to keep your eyes and head up to improve your chances of keeping the bike up. If a crash is imminent, and there is enough space to swerve around the deer without leaving the roadway, use maximum braking, and just before impact, attempt a swerve in the opposite direction the deer is traveling.
What To Do If You Hit A Deer In Minnesota
If, despite your best efforts, you do hit a deer on a Minnesota road, authorities say you should immediately contact law enforcement by dialing 9-1-1. You should also contact your insurance company. These two calls are important as having a police report of the incident will help with any insurance claims you need to file for the damages sustained.
If the deer is still in the roadway and it is safe to do so, block the lane to keep other drivers from hitting the deer and turn on your flashers. Never approach an injured deer as it may hurt you. Even if the deer is dead it is safer to wait for the police to arrive than attempting to remove the deer from the road yourself.
If you're a Minnesota resident and want to keep the deer carcass, it will be necessary for you to first obtain a permit. The responding officer will issue you one at the scene for free.
Lastly, if a deer is struck but not killed by a vehicle, keep a distance as the deer may recover and move on. If a deer does not move on or poses a public safety risk, you should report the incident to a local law enforcement agency.
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Gallery Credit: Dom DiFurio & Jacob Osborn