Car Collision with a Deer--Lessons Learned
Original post made by Paul Losch on Oct 14, 2007
It all happened so quickly, much of the experience is a blur. But, I do think a couple of things I did and did not do probably avoided any of us in the car getting hurt or killed. I have talked with some safety and insurance people as part of my de-brief, and they concur that given the circumstances, I did the right thing.
Specifically, I did not swerve or try to avoid the collision. I gripped the wheel, held the course, braked and let things happen. Had I tried steering out of the way to avoid hitting the deer, I likely would still have hit it, but going a fast speed, albeit the posted limit, there was a risk of rolling the car and since it was a narrow road, the car could have careened a number of yards into the ditch and ravine off the road.
I am not happy about what happened, and it is one of those experiences where in hndsight one could ask, could I have avoided the incident driving a bit slower, brights on, not off, driving a different time of day, etc, etc. Will never know, the deer just appeared out of nowhere. But, by the same token, things could have been much worse, even tragically so, even with some differences in how I was driving.
Today's cars are designed to abosrb the impact of a collision and keep the people inside the car as safe as possible. In this case, the car did what it was designed to do. I pass this along as food for thought for people who find themselves driving in areas where deer and other large animals are present. As awful an experience as it was to hit and kill this animal, I am hugely relieved that I handled the car the way I did, and as a result, nobody in my family that was driving with me was hurt or killed.
on Oct 14, 2007 at 1:02 pm
Sorry to hear about your travails. You did everything right, except one thing: You braked. At high speeds that big rig behind you might not have seen the deer jump out in front of you. The correct thing to do is to drive straight through the animal, then slowly come to a stop.
The "I Brake for Animals" bumper sticker is fine for city driving (to avoid squirrels and cats) but it can get you killed at high speeds.
Glad you survived. I enjoy your posts!
on Oct 14, 2007 at 1:41 pm
Paul sorry about your accident; it is a good lesson for anyone driving up into the hills, which isn't very far away. As a former resident of Los Altos Hills I can tell you I've had some very near misses with deer.
on Oct 14, 2007 at 5:00 pm
I don't understand this. It seems to me that if a driver hits a deer, he or she could just as easily hit a child running into the road. Plus cars are supposed to be far enough apart to stop safely when the car ahead's brake lights go on. Just a case of unsafe driving.