You don’t have to be a deer hunter to bag a buck with a Chevy, Ford or Buick.  All that is required is a momentary lapse in concentration. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the insurance industry paid out over $1 billion in car-deer collision claims last year.  That works out to roughly $2,000 in damages for each accident.

Deer running at night

As a matter of fact, the nation’s most deadly animal —the type of animal responsible for the most human deaths —is not a shark, alligator, snake or bear.  It’s that cute white-tail you just saw scamper across the road.  So be extremely cautious when driving through rural areas and remember that deer can be deadly.

Here are some things to keep in mind to reduce the risk of an encounter with a deer:

•Deer whistles, deer fences, and reflectors are not effective deer deterrents, according to III.

•If you spot a deer, brake firmly and stay in your lane.  Sometimes drivers swerve to avoid a deer and end up hitting another car, tree or pole.

•Be especially alert for deer between sunset and midnight and shortly before and after sunrise.  These are the times when deer are most active.

•If you see one deer, there are probably more nearby.  Deer travel together, usually in single file and can dart into the roadway from any direction.

•Expect to see deer at deer crossing signs.  No, deer do not obey the signs, but the signs do identify dangerous areas.

•When you see a deer, immediately slow down.  Swerving and changing lanes can confuse the deer as to where to run.  Give one loud blast from your horn to scare the deer away.

•Use your high beams when no traffic is approaching to better illuminate the road and the eyes of deer on the roadway.

•Always wear your seat belt.  The majority of people killed in deer-car collisions were not buckled up.

•At night time deer are usually visible less than 200 feet from your vehicle. It takes a car about 317 feet to stop at 55 mph under optimum conditions. Slow down.

•If you do strike a deer, don’t touch it.  An injured deer, frightened and wounded could cause injury to you or itself.  Move your vehicle off the road (if possible) and call police immediately.

•Be alert for deer year-round in rural areas.