How to Avoid Hitting a Deer and Damaging Your Windshield


At Glass.com, we’ve heard some bizarre stories of animals breaking windshields. From turkeys to turtles, owls and ponies, animals—even small critters—can do major damage. Damage most commonly comes from deer though,  which are prevalent throughout North America. A full-grown adult deer can weigh up to 300 pounds, which can cause enough damage to total a vehicle and even kill occupants. Male deer, called bucks, typically have antlers, and can do even more damage than female deer, also known as does.

large-mule-deer-buck

Last year, deer caused over 1.5 million accidents, accounting for nearly 80% of all animal-related accidents. For perspective, there are approximately 6 million total car accidents every year, meaning that deer account for a whopping 25%, or one out of every 4 accidents that occur.

Although deer are out roaming all year long, there is one particular part of the year when they become more active, which means the chances of hitting one are greater. This time of year, referred to as the rut, is a deer’s mating season. The season typically begins near the end of October and runs about five weeks. During the rut, bucks are on the move chasing does. For drivers, this means that deer may run out onto the road suddenly. Hunting seasons around the country can run from September through January though, a time when deer are still active, but not at their peak.

deer-in-rut

So how can you as the driver avoid having your windshield destroyed by a deer? Here’s a few helpful tips and tricks to keep you safe:

  1. Be vigilant in scanning both sides of the road while driving. Sometimes deer will sprint out from the woods, but typically they’ll pause first. Be sure to scan the opposite side of the road, not just the side you’re on. Deer move quickly.
  2. Take deer crossing areas seriously. The signs are placed there for good reason.
  3. Don’t assume that deer are only present on country backroads. Deer are regularly hit on highways and in subdivisions too.
  4. Where there’s one, there are usually more. Deer typically travel in small groups so if you see one crossing a road, be on the lookout for more to follow.
  5. Use your high beam lights at night when there isn’t oncoming traffic. Seeing further down the road gives you more time to respond to hazards.

What should you do if you can’t avoid hitting the deer?

Even the safest, most cautious drivers can’t avoid every accident. If a deer is in the middle of the road at night when you come around a blind curve, chances are you will not have enough time to react and impact is inevitable. So what’s the “safest” way to hit a deer?

The first key is to avoid evasive maneuvers that risk losing control of the vehicle. Never swerve into oncoming traffic, which puts yours and other’s lives in danger. Also, don’t leave the roadway. You could end up hitting a tree or telephone pole. Unless you can safely maneuver around the deer in a controlled manner without leaving the roadway or driving into oncoming traffic, the best course of action is to apply firm braking pressure and bring the vehicle to a quick but controlled stop—even if this means hitting the deer.

deer-crossing-road

What should you do if you hit a deer while driving?

  1. If possible, pull the car over to a safe place off of the road and turn on the hazard lights to indicate other drivers should use caution.
  2. If you or anyone else was injured, call 911 and wait for paramedics to arrive.
  3. If there is damage to your car or the deer is injured, also call 911 and ask them to send a police officer. The officer can help document the incident which may be helpful if you file an insurance claim. The officer can also help determine what to do with the injured animal.
  4. If the deer is in the road, do not approach it. Wait for the police officer to arrive. The deer may be stunned or unconscious and could panic when it becomes conscious. It could injure someone nearby in confusion, with its hooves or antlers.
  5. If you can safely do so, take pictures of the scene and any damage to your vehicle. Document the location, time of day, direction of travel, and weather. If possible, gather accounts from other drivers who witnessed the accident.
  6. Thoroughly evaluate your vehicle for damage. Check the windshield for cracks or chips, especially the driver’s viewing area, which is approximately where the windshield wipers sweep. Drive the car only if safe to do so. Otherwise, call a tow truck to have the vehicle taken to a repair shop.
  7. If there is any damage to the windshield, have the windshield replaced as soon as possible. Use Glass.com to find a local, reputable windshield replacement specialist. Receive an instant price quote and book conveniently using your smartphone.
  8. Report the incident to your insurance company if you wish to receive compensation for the damage.

car-hit-deer-accident

Any sort of car accident can be scary and emotional, especially when it involves another living creature. Just remember to stay calm and stay safe. Luckily, car windshields are very strong. Although a deer may break it, the chances of the deer penetrating this windshield are lessened because of the tough polycarbonate interlayer sandwiched between the two pieces of glass. This polycarbonate interlayer is designed to hold the glass in place, should it get broken.

This is one reason why it’s so important to have your windshield replaced if it’s damaged; your windshield acts as a safety device—a barrier between you and outside objects. If the windshield is already damaged due to a crack or chip, this creates a weak point that could cause the windshield to fail altogether in the event of a collision. Having your windshield replaced by a reputable auto glass shop that follows safe replacement procedures is also key in ensuring that the windshield serves its purpose in the event of an emergency.

Should you need your windshield replaced, use Glass.com to find a reputable shop nearby. Simply go to Glass.com, type in your zip code, input the year, make and model of your vehicle, then view quotes from local shops in your area. Like what you see? Go ahead and book conveniently online and we’ll have the shop reach out to you to confirm your appointment.


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By Daniel Snow

Daniel Snow serves as the operations manager for Glass.com and is also a contributing editor. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from George Mason University and has a background in the real estate industry. After high school, Daniel even worked at a family-owned glass shop for a short period of time and is an Auto Glass Safety Council certified installer.

In his free time, Daniel enjoys being outdoors, especially around the water where he can be found surfing, fishing, and boating. He has a passion for bringing old vehicles back to life and loves working with his hands to restore cars, boats, and motorcycles.


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