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How to survive with the least amount of personal injury when encountering wildlife on the road


Wisconsin has an abundance of wildlife, which enhances the loveliness and diversity of the state. However, motor vehicle crashes with wildlife continues to be a major concern for Wisconsin drivers. In the past two years, there have been 25,000 accidents involving deer and motor vehicles in the state. Given this frequency, would you know what to do if you encountered large wildlife on the road, such as deer, elk or moose?

States with the greatest number of collision claims with big game animals

The Information Insurance Institute collected the following data, showing that the odds for a Wisconsin driver hitting a large game animal (deer, elk, mouse or caribou) for 2018 was 1 in 72, the fourth highest in the nation.












When is the greatest incidence of animal vs motor vehicle accidents?

Most deer versus car accidents occur during their breeding phase of October and November. Because they are moving around a lot during this time, the incident of deer-vehicle collisions are at their highest. However, many crashes also occur during May and June, during spring fawning and where young deer seek our new grazing ranges.

Nonetheless, accidents with deer and other wildlife in Wisconsin occur with a great deal of frequency throughout the year and drivers should always slow down and scan the roadsides throughout the day, especially if they are driving on county highways, the outskirts of cities and in rural areas.


Specific times when crashes occur with deer most often are:

· April through August – between 8 p.m. and midnight

· March through April – between 5 and 7 in the morning

· October through January – between 5 and 7 in the morning and between 5 p.m. and midnight.


What to do if you encounter a large game animal on the roadway

Knowing what to do if you suddenly encounter a large game animal on the roadway can save your life and that of others. The best thing to do in such an encounter may seem counter-intuitive, but it is the safest thing to do.

Do not swerve to avoid the animal. Swerving to try avoiding hitting a deer or other animal is the leading cause of death and injuries from animal-related accidents. If you swerve, you could hit another vehicle coming in the opposite direction, you could crash into a tree or other stationary object, or you could lose control of the car and roll over.

You have to go against your instinct. Slow down as much as possible and, sad as it may sound, let your car hit the deer or other animal. The impact will no doubt cause damage to your vehicle and perhaps personal injury to you and your passengers, but it is a much safer alternative than swerving.


Preventing an animal vs vehicle collision

If you see a deer crossing sign, or other animal warning sign, it means the area is known for high deer traffic and that the possibility of a deer crossing is front of you is very possible, so be very aware. In addition, know that deer usually travel in a herd. If you see one, there may be more, so slow down, especially on rural roads.

If you are driving in an area with little or no oncoming traffic, your high beams can make it easier for you to spot a deer or other animal ahead, either on the road or on the side of the road. Never use your high beams when there is oncoming traffic.

We urge all of you to be very careful driving in areas when deer and other large game animals are known to frequent. It’s always wonderful to see such beautiful creatures in nature, especially close up…but not too close.


If you have any questions about this article or any areas of personal injury law, please contact us. Our consultations are always free.


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