EMS Tips Operations

Tips to Prevent Deer-Vehicle Collisions

I was actually thinking about hitting a deer when I saw a flash of brown out the corner of my left eye. I never “really” saw the deer, just the flash. But I knew it was a deer because it left behind a thick swatch of hair in the new crease in the driver’s side door of my Isuzu trooper. Living in Wisconsin I have had lots of near misses with deer and have been hit by a single deer, but I still have not hit a deer.

Deer-Vehicle collisions are an increasing concern for drivers of all types of vehicles. As the urban-wildland interface continues to blur in many areas of the country animals are living in habitat we would not expect to see them. It is not unusual for me to see deer during my morning walk in my suburban neighborhood. I don’t live in the country.

According to this article, Ambulance Hits Deer, a firefighter was injured when the ambulance hit a deer. Emergency vehicles are not immune to deer-vehicle collisions. The consequences of a deer-vehicle collision can be significant (especially for the deer) for the vehicle and its occupants.

These are my Everyday EMS Tips for avoiding vehicle-deer collisions.

1. Never swerve to avoid an animal. It is much better to hit the animal than risk losing control of your vehicle and rolling or leaving the roadway. I always like the odds of vehicle vs. deer better than vehicle vs. large white pine tree.

2. If a deer is in the roadway remove your foot from the accelerator first, check your mirrors, and then gently brake if the vehicles behind you are far enough that you can decelerate without being rear-ended.

3. Travel at or below the posted speed limit in areas, seasons, and times of day animals are most likely to be moving.

4. Stay attentive to driving duties. Keep your eyes on the road, scan ahead, and look for animals in the shoulders and media strips.

5. If a front seat passenger is available have them scan ahead for deer and other animals while you focus on the primary task of driving.

6. If you hit a deer control your vehicle to a safe stopping location. Avoid causing a secondary collision by pulling well off the roadway and not parking at the crest of hill or inside of a curve.

7. Read about deer collision statistics and other safety procedures.

Finally, I have long believed you will never hit the deer you see. If you frequently drive in areas where a collision is likely mentally rehearse how you will respond if a brown flash streaks across your hood, through your windshield, or into your door.

By Greg Friese

Greg Friese, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is an author, educator, paramedic, and marathon runner.

Greg was the co-host of the award winning EMSEduCast podcast, the only podcast by and for EMS educators. Greg has written for,, Wilderness Medical Associates, JEMS Magazine, and EMS World Magazine, and the NAEMSE Educator Newsletter.