⭕ There are thousands of deer collisions each year in NJ

⭕ The danger is now year-round

⭕ There is one thing you should never do if you hit a deer

More than 15,000 deer are hit by vehicles in New Jersey every year.

As Fall turns to Winter and rutting season ends, the risk of collision may dip a bit, but the danger is always there.

The internet is full of deer avoidance systems and suggestions about what you should and should not do if you hit a deer.

There is, however, one thing you should absolutely never do if you hit a deer in the Garden State.

Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Townsquare Media illustration

Before we get to that, let's consider some of the things you absolutely should do to avoid an accident and what to do if you find yourself involved in a deer/vehicle collision.

NJDEP Fish & Wildlife Assistant Commissioner Dave Golden notes, "Deer are involved in thousands of collisions with motor vehicles in New Jersey each year. It is very important that motorists in all parts of the state be alert to the possibility of deer suddenly darting onto roadways, and to follow some basic guidelines to stay safe.”

The DEP recommends the following:

🔺 If you see a deer, slow down and pay attention to possible sudden movement.
🔺 If the deer is in the road and doesn't move, don't go around it. Wait for the deer to pass and the road is clear.
🔺 Pay attention to “Deer Crossing” signs. Slow down when traveling through areas known to have a high concentration of deer so you will have ample time to stop if necessary.
🔺 If you are traveling after dark, use high beams when there is no oncoming traffic or vehicles ahead. High beams will be reflected by the eyes of deer on or near roads.
🔺 If you see one deer crossing, be on guard: others may be in the area. Deer typically move in family groups at this time of year and cross roads single-file.
🔺 Don't tailgate. Remember: the driver in front of you might have to stop suddenly to avoid hitting a deer.
🔺 Always wear a seatbelt, as required by law.
🔺 Drive at a safe and sensible speed, accounting for weather, available lighting, traffic, curves and other road conditions.
🔺 Do not use handheld devices while driving.
🔺 Report any deer-vehicle collision to a local law enforcement agency immediately.

Do you have to report a deer collision

Yes, you do.

New Jersey has laws governing the hitting of domestic, farm, and wild animals (4:22-25.1) and it requires motorists to report collisions with animals to police.

Do I have to remain at the scene?


That really depends on what you hit and if your vehicle can be driven safely.

If the accident involving an animal involved another vehicle or damage to a person's property, then you do have to remain on the scene.

Either way, you are required to provide police with all of your contact information.

Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Townsquare Media illustration

What about insurance?

Most insurance companies do require you to report an accident.

In order to help with the claim, take lots of photos of the scene including all damage to your vehicle.

Police will provide you with contact information to obtain a police report to aid you in filing a claim for any damages.

Now that you know what you should do, here is what you should never do

It is natural to want to try and avoid a deer standing in or running across the road.

That can be bad.

If a collision appears inevitable, do not swerve to avoid impact.

You should brake appropriately, but don't slam on your brakes. That could cause you to lose control of your vehicle and for any vehicles behind you to collide with your vehicle.

The best advice is try not to panic, and stay in your lane.

Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Townsquare Media illustration

Collisions are more likely to become fatal when a driver swerves to avoid a deer and instead collides with oncoming traffic or a fixed structure along the road.

Hitting a deer can be terrifying and frustrating. Sometimes, it can also be unavoidable.

Staying calm and remaining in your lane through the collision is the best way for you to survive the accident.

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