According to the Insurance Information Institute, data from State Farm shows that Montana ranks number 2 out of all 50 states for likelihood of a motor vehicle accident involving an animal. While there are all types of animals involved in motor vehicle accidents, almost 70% of accidents are with deer. With a national total of 1.9 million accidents (July 2021-June 2022), the probability of these accidents in Montana is 1 in 44 making them very common.
Accidents with deer are not only harmful to wildlife but lead to hundreds of deaths, tens of thousands of injuries, and millions of dollars in property damage. As you pull out of your driveway each and every day, you never know when you’ll be affected by one of these accidents.
While the odds of hitting a deer in Montana may not surprise you, the most dangerous months for deer collisions are November, October, and December (in that order). During these months, it’s both hunting season and mating season for deer which affect their behavior and roaming patterns. As the days become shorter, it’s also much more difficult to see deer along roads and highways making this peak season for deer related accidents.
Montana drivers are always on the hunt for new methods to protect against deer collisions. Using brighter headlights and deer whistles attached to your vehicle that make noise are a few options but do very little to prevent an accident. It really comes down to the driver being alert and aware of what’s around you so you can stop your vehicle in time.
Always wear your seat belt and obey any posted speed limits.
Pay attention to "deer crossing" signs. These are usually posted on roads by wooded areas or near water where deer usually appear. If you see one deer, there are probably several others nearby.
Collisions with deer can happen any time of the year, but fall and early winter are peak seasons. It's both hunting and mating seasons which force deer to roam outside their familiar territory. Be especially cautious during this time of year especially with it getting darker outside earlier in the evening.
Deer tend to fixate on headlights so use your headlights to flicker when you see a deer in front of your path. Flashing your headlights may cause the animal to scurry away. If you drive outside of the city, use your high-beams so you can see further in front of you.
If you see a deer far out in front of you, reduce your speed and tap your brakes to warn drivers behind you. Continue to brake as necessary and sound your horn to scare the deer away. If there's no vehicle close behind you, brake hard and try not to swerve.
If a collision is inevitable, continue to maintain control over your vehicle and don't turn or swerve to avoid hitting the deer. You increase your risk of injury if you do. If you're not hurt, turn on your hazards and move your vehicle to a safe location.
Check for any injuries on yourself or any of your passengers. If anyone is injured, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Disregarded injuries can still be severe after the shock from the accident wears off.
Report the accident to the police or highway patrol who can help if the animal is wounded and still alive. Do not attempt to move the animal as it could still be alive. You may be required to fill out an official report if there was any property damage or injuries.
Document the time and place of the accident with photos of the accident including the animal, the road, your vehicle and any injuries. Smartphones can geotag your photos which can help later identify your location.
As soon as you're able to, report the accident to your insurance company to file a claim. Should you have any questions or want legal advice, you can contact our team of experienced motor vehicle accident lawyers for help.
If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident and seriously injured, our Montana car accident lawyers are available to help. We have a winning track record of guiding our clients through an accident, and we take pride in helping our fellow Montanan's. Contact us for a free initial consultation and stay safe while driving!
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