Fall is a beautiful time of year, but it comes with its own unique set of driving hazards, including increased chances of a deer collision. Hopefully, you’ll never need this information, but here’s what you need to know if you hit a deer with your car.
It’s important to move your car to avoid a secondary accident where someone hits your stopped vehicle. Drive off to the side of the road if possible and turn on your hazard lights to warn other drivers of the situation.
Call the Police
Once you’re safely pulled over, call the police to let them know you hit a deer and whether it’s blocking the road. Do not try to move the animal yourself! It could accidentally hurt you or someone else trying to help. The police will assess the situation when they arrive and determine how to handle the injured animal.
Check for Broken Lights
Sometimes a deer collision will leave your car in no condition to drive. Other times, your vehicle may still run and seem OK at a glance, but that doesn’t mean you can simply roll away. You need to carefully check several components to be sure it’s safe to drive.
Make sure all your lights are working, especially if you’ve had a head-on deer collision. Next, do a visual inspection to see if there are any cracks or missing parts. It’s possible for a light to still work if the lens or housing is broken or pieces are missing. If the deer collision happens at night or in inclement weather, don’t drive anywhere afterward if your lights don’t work.
Look for Fluid Leaks
A car that looks fine at first glance may still have damage. Look around your car and especially underneath it to see if there are any fluid leaks. Even a small one could become something dangerous if left unchecked. You can identify a fluid leak by color and smell, but your vehicle will likely need some work nonetheless. If you see any fluids coming from your car, then do not drive.
Missing or Broken Parts
The impact of a deer collision can cause all kinds of body damage, from dings to dislodged parts. Inspect your car carefully to see if there are dents that interfere with operation, especially by the tires, where a bulging piece of metal could keep your wheels from moving freely.
Also, look for any loose parts, including trims. A broken piece of trim might not affect your ability to drive, but you don’t want it falling off on the highway and causing harm to another vehicle. Make sure the damage to your car doesn’t make it unsafe to drive.
Contact Your Insurance Company
If your insurance policy includes comprehensive coverage, then you’re covered if you hit a deer or any kind of animal. This kicks in whether you struck a deer in the road, or it ran into you.
Separately, if you swerve to avoid a deer and end up hitting another vehicle or an object, you’re still protected. This falls under collision coverage, but either way, your insurance can help you get your car back on the road.
Above all else, keep calm if you’re involved in a deer collision. Make sure you and your passengers are safe and rely on the help of the local police to resolve the situation.
Check out all the paint & body products available on NAPA online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information about wildlife collisions, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.
Nicole Wakelin covers the automotive industry as a freelance journalist for a variety of outlets. Her work includes news pieces, podcasts, radio, written reviews, and video reviews. She can be found in The Boston Globe, CarGurus, BestRide, US News and World Report, and AAA along with lifestyle blogs like Be Car Chic, The Other PTA, and She Buys Cars. She is active on social media with a large following on both Twitter and Instagram and currently serves as Vice President of the New England Motor Press Association.