Why Do Deer Jump In Front Of Cars?

Basit Ali Chaudhary

Nowadays, there is a growing number of accidents caused by deer. There are many people who are facing this problem at the moment. A deer that jumps in front of a car is not only going to cause a lot of damage to the car but the deer itself may be killed or suffer serious injuries as well.

Deer are naturally a bit skittish and wary of cars, so why do they often jump in front of them? Perhaps it’s the noise the car makes or the bright headlights that startle the deer; this causes them to jump into action. Increased housing development has disrupted their habitats and blocked their natural pathways, forcing them to move onto roads and highways in search of food or shelter. They cross paths by only focusing on what’s ahead of them instead of what’s around them. 

Let’s analyze various reasons why deer jump in front of the car. How to avoid deer accidents, and much more.

Let’s get started. 

How to Avoid Hitting a Deer

If I talk about statistics, according to the insurance information institute, there are approximately 1.9 million animal collision insurance claims filed by individuals in one year till July 2022. And with regard to the state, majority of these claims are filed in Pennsylvania, where most of these accidents took place.

Deer are most active in twilight times, which means they are most active during dawn and dusk hours. So, as a precaution, you should be more careful and aware during twilight hours, especially from 6 to 9 p.m.

States With the Most Animal Collisions

Below is the list of states with the most animal accidents. These states are ranked from highest probability to lowest probability that how likely people are going to hit an animal on the way.

State RankingStateProbability of Collision With Animals
1West Virginia1 in 37
2Montana1 in 39
3South Dakota1 in 48
4Michigan1 in 54
5Pennsylvania1 in 54
Source: Car Insurance

Above is the table that provides the list of states with the most animal’s collisions. West Virginia is on top, where the probability of a vehicle hitting an animal is 1 out of 37 that is 2.7%. 

According to a report by Auto Insurer, in Pennsylvania alone, 156,176 claims were filed for animal accidents. 

According to state farm report, a total of 1.5 million accidents took place between July 2021 to June 2022, which are still 5.5 % less than the number of accidents that happened last year.

And the last quarter of the year is the one when most animal collisions take place.  

Animals That Are Mostly Hit By Vehicles

There are millions of animals that are injured or killed every year as a result of cars accidentally hitting them on the road. Deer are the most commonly injured animals, accounting for 13% of reported cases, followed by squirrels, dogs, rabbits, and raccoons. It is also reported that deer being top are hit by most vehicles, around 1.3 million every year. Sadly, these unlucky creatures often suffer serious injuries or even death – when a car hits them.

1- Deer – 13%

2- Squirrel- 12% 

3- Dog- 11%

4- Rabbit- 9%

5- Racoon-8%

6- Coyote- 4%

7- Skunk-6%

Possible Reasons Why Deer Jump in Front of the Car

Deer-car collisions are common in many areas, making us wonder why deer are so eager to run in front of cars. It happens when vehicles are driving on roads with low visibility, such as fog or darkness, which makes it harder for deer to see potential threats. Deer can be startled and sprint across the road without looking both ways first, making it hard for drivers to avoid hitting them.

Deer travel as per their routine route in search of food and to seek shelter, and if the road comes their way, they will simply continue to move without considering the risk of an accident. 

Headlights and the sound of car horns often scares deer. Especially in the dark, when deer comes in front of the direct headlights of the car, the strong light blinds deer for a while, and thus they continue to stand in the middle of the road instead of walking away.

Deer accidents are also common in hilly and foggy areas. The fog creates difficulty in seeing both for deer and car drivers. And if the car comes across deer crossing the road, the sudden entry will surprise the deer and will make it jump towards the car.

With the increase in human populations, there has been a significant increase in infrastructure projects such as new roads, societies, and bridges. And if new roads have been built in deer zones, it is very obvious deer will use those roads to go from one place to another, and that’s what is leading to deer collisions. 

Deer are proactive animals, and that’s why they get scared too quickly and start to run and jump. The reason is they have a large number of predators which makes them extra alert and cautious.

When are Deer Most Active?

Deer are most active around dawn and dusk. Most deer species show diurnal behavior meaning they are most active during twilight hours. They do this to stay hidden from predators during the brightest parts of the day.  

So car drivers need to understand when deer are most active so they can be more cautious while driving during that time.

Ways to Stop Deer Accidents

deer crossing road

1- Drive Slow in Deer Zones

One possible solution can be to drive slowly so you can see and observe more clearly any deer activity while you are driving. The advantage of slow driving is that even if a deer comes your way, you can stop immediately due to less speed. 

2- Use Horn & Wear Seatbelts

It is also possible to use your vehicle’s horn to alert the deer to your presence, and they will most certainly run away due to the high sound of the horn. In addition, it is best if you use some specific horns that can produce a loud sound. But, make sure you don’t use the horn when the deer is just too close to the vehicle because it might jump towards the car instead of running away. Additionally, it is always a good idea to wear a seatbelt when driving in order to ensure your safety.

3- Drive With More Caution During Peak Deer Activity

This tip is quite helpful for many. Since deer are most active during dawn and dusk, it’s better to be more cautious during these times as it’s more probable you may encounter deer on your way. So it’s better to be more proactive during 6 – 9 p.m. time to avoid any potential risks of hitting dear. 

4- Use High Beams

Night driving can be scary, especially in rural areas where deer are common. It’s always a risk of hitting a deer, but if you’re vigilant, you can greatly reduce your chances. Using high beams can scare deer and make them run away. With high beams, you would also be able to see better during dark nights. When driving at night, use your high beams to avoid hitting a deer. 

5- Fall is the peak season

It’s worth mentioning here that deer peak activity is during the last quarter from October to December. This is because deer mating takes place during the fall season, and it’s most probable you will encounter deer during last quarter of the year. Many hunters also hunt deer during this time of year, which makes deer more scared, and they will move consistently to seek cover.

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