Be alert, ready to react to deer in roadways

Deer-vehicle crashes happen more frequently this time of year. The Illinois Insurance Association and its member companies encourage motorists to be alert, focused and ready to react to deer on roadways in the coming weeks.

Tips to avoid deer-related incidents:

• Slow down around timber, field edges, watering holes, and areas where deer gather.

• Drive with high beam headlights at night to better catch the reflection of a deer’s eyes.

• Deer travel in groups. If you see one, more are likely nearby.

• Honk the horn; flash headlights; tap brakes if you see a deer.

Deer are unpredictable. Follow these steps if one appears in your path.

• Stay calm; firmly grip the steering wheel; brake steadily; hit the animal head-on; come to a controlled stop.

• Never swerve to avoid a deer-hit. Serious injury and vehicle damage are more likely.

• Call 911 to report the crash.

• Check for injuries and request medical help if necessary.

• Illinois law requires an accident report if property damage exceeds $1,500.

• Remain in your car until help arrives.

Fixing a deer-damaged vehicle can be costly. Auto insurance covers this unexpected expense if the policy has physical damage protection. Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Take pictures, get two repair estimates, and check deductibles. The policyholder pays the comprehensive deductible if there is direct contact with the deer. Otherwise, the collision deductible applies. Liability-only insurance provides no physical damage coverage for the policyholder’s vehicle.

— Kevin J. Martin, Executive Director, Illinois Insurance Association, Springfield

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