How to avoid a collision with a moose or deer: 12 steps

Table of contents:

How to avoid a collision with a moose or deer: 12 steps
How to avoid a collision with a moose or deer: 12 steps

Each year, collisions with elk and deer are the leading cause of hundreds of thousands of car accidents on the roads of North America and Northern Europe. Hitting these animals, especially a moose, is potentially fatal to car passengers and can cause significant damage to your car, and the animals. If you want to avoid colliding with a moose or deer, you have to be vigilant and know what to do if you are faced with this situation. Here you will know how to do it.


Method 1 of 2: Avoid a Collision

Avoid a Moose or Deer Collision Step 1
Avoid a Moose or Deer Collision Step 1

Step 1. Heed the warning signs

Collisions occur most often in elk and deer habitat, such as wooded places and rivers. If you see a deer or elk crossing sign, be vigilant and slow down. Moose and deer cross the roads for a variety of reasons and at different times of the year. Many times they want to go to another part of their habitat. The mating season and the hunting season also cause the animals to move from one place to another. Keep alert.

Avoid a Moose or Deer Collision Step 2
Avoid a Moose or Deer Collision Step 2

Step 2. Drive at a safe speed

Do not speed when driving through places where elk or deer are abundant. You can still get to your destination if you drive slower and you will have more time to avoid hitting an animal if you see one. Wildlife experts recommend a speed of 90kph (55mph) as suitable for wildlife areas in good weather, as you have a longer reaction time to stop. Here are some things that get worse when you travel at a very high speed:

  • You cannot stop fast enough to avoid a collision.
  • The impact of a car / truck will be worse the faster you travel.
  • Your ability to take evasive action is drastically reduced and one is more likely to swerve rather than slow down and respond carefully.
Avoid a Moose or Deer Collision Step 3
Avoid a Moose or Deer Collision Step 3

Step 3. Drive defensively

Be prepared to take evasive action, including being able to reduce speed quickly, brake suddenly, or lower your headlights. Drive so that you can stop within the distance your headlights reach; you can practice this in a safe place if you don't know how fast you can do it in your vehicle. Make sure you are wearing your seat belt and verify that the rest of the passengers are wearing theirs. A sudden wobble could cause people to be thrown out of the car.

Avoid a Moose or Deer Collision Step 4
Avoid a Moose or Deer Collision Step 4

Step 4. Observe your surroundings

Always check the sides of the road while driving for any signs of life. If you have passengers, you can involve them but ask them not to yell as this can cause a startle and cause the driver to react incorrectly. Ask them to calmly tell you if they see a moose or deer walking around. Look at the sides of the road, the shoulders, a ditch (they love the grass that grows in them), the medians, roads that cross, on the same road and try to spot any signs of movement, the brightness of the eyes or silhouettes.

Look both sides of the road; there is evidence that drivers see the side of the road next to the passenger seat more than their own side, falsely assuming that only one side of the road is the problem. Always look both ways

Avoid a Moose or Deer Collision Step 5
Avoid a Moose or Deer Collision Step 5

Step 5. Be especially alert at dawn and dusk

Deer and elk are more mobile in the hours of dusk until midnight, and from there until dawn. These are also the most difficult times for our eyes to adjust to the light level because it is neither completely dark nor light enough, so it is more difficult to see well. If you are not alert or cannot see well at times like this, it is best to postpone your trip for another time.

You must be vigilant, because if you see a deer or elk, surely there are more of these nearby, even if you cannot see them. If you see one creature, it is more likely that you will come across more

Avoid a Moose or Deer Collision Step 6
Avoid a Moose or Deer Collision Step 6

Step 6. Drive safely at night

Use your high beams where possible and when there are no cars that you can alarm when approaching; These lights will better illuminate the place you are traveling. Here are other precautions to take when driving in the dark:

  • Move to the center lane when traveling on a 3-lane road, or center the car as much as possible if you are on a 2-lane road.
  • Make sure your windshield is clean and does not have any traces of grime, as it will not allow you to see well.
  • Drive below the speed limit, as the car will consume less fuel and is safer.
  • Always look to the side of the road for the reflection in the eyes of the animals, which can be seen from a great distance at night. Sometimes this is the only visible part of the animal until it is directly in your path. Be aware that moose eyes do not reflect light.
Avoid a Moose or Deer Collision Step 7
Avoid a Moose or Deer Collision Step 7

Step 7. Slow down when other cars behave differently

If you see flashing lights (flashing lights or headlights), horns, or see people making hand gestures, slow down and prepare to stop! Of course, if a car suddenly stops in front of you, you should also stop or at least slow down. In these situations, the other cars could have stopped because there are already animals crossing the road in front of you.

Avoid a Moose or Deer Collision Step 8
Avoid a Moose or Deer Collision Step 8

Step 8. Stay alert, even when approaching a city or town

You just arrived on the outskirts of a city, so everything is fine, right? You're wrong! Moose and deer roam the towns and outskirts of a city in search of food. They could be eating in the median of the freeway or they ran out of someone's yard. Keep driving carefully. When you come across a deer or elk, don't expect them to react rationally.

The honking of horns, flashing lights, and a metal machine turning towards them will greatly scare the animal and will most likely run full speed towards you instead of out of your way. Male deer are known to charge towards stationary or moving cars of any size

Avoid a Moose or Deer Collision Step 9
Avoid a Moose or Deer Collision Step 9

Step 9. Know when not to tack

If you suddenly see a deer in front of your car, hit the brakes firmly. Do not veer and get out of the lane; Many accidents happen where the car does not hit the deer but a car or truck in the opposite lane while trying to avoid it. It is best to drive defensively and go slowly enough so that you don't hit a moose and can stop in time.

Avoid a Moose or Deer Collision Step 10
Avoid a Moose or Deer Collision Step 10

Step 10. Honk the deer or elk in short runs

Do this only if the deer is far enough away and there are no other cars to be confused by the honking. This may scare the animal away, but there is no guarantee that the deer will get off the road. If you are very close to the deer, it is not good to honk it as it can get confused and get closer.

Method 2 of 2: What to Do During a Collision

Avoid a Moose or Deer Collision Step 11
Avoid a Moose or Deer Collision Step 11

Step 1. Minimize the impact if it is unavoidable

If an accident with a moose or deer is unavoidable, here are some suggestions to minimize the impact:

  • Try to move the car in the direction the animal came from. This can cause you to back away from the animal, and the animal is more likely to keep going than backing up. This will only work if there is only one animal. This will not work for deer.
  • Change your visual field to that place, do not look at the animal or you will turn towards it.
  • Try to brush against the animal instead of completely colliding with it. Brake firmly, roll the car / truck, and take your foot off the pedal when you crash. Releasing the brake will cause the vehicle to lift slightly and may be enough to prevent the animal from crashing into the windshield if your vehicle is high enough.
  • If you are about to collide with a moose, lean towards the door pillar. At Mythbusters, where they tested this, the center of the car was completely crushed in each collision but the triangle near the door pillar was intact in each accident. Still, there are no guarantees of anything; it is better to avoid the collision completely.
Avoid a Moose or Deer Collision Step 12
Avoid a Moose or Deer Collision Step 12

Step 2. Be careful after a collision with a deer or elk

There are some important steps to take after verifying that everyone is relatively unscathed.

  • Deviate to the gutter if possible. Turn on your flashers and if you can, aim your headlights at the animal or as close as possible.
  • Check the passengers for any injuries and then try to treat the ones you can. Even if there are no injuries, shock can occur quickly. Try to reassure others and if it is very cold they should immediately put on warm clothing as shock or fear impairs the ability to repel the cold. If it's winter, stay in the car to keep warm.
  • Avoid getting close to the animal; it may kick or gore you due to shock and pain. If you are blocking the road, use your flashers and headlights and keep your car stopped. Only try to move the animal if you are 100% sure it is dead.
  • Use a flare or reflective triangle if you have them.
  • Call the police immediately or seek help. Remember that most insurance companies will not pay for damages you have suffered from hitting a deer or elk if you don't file a police report.


  • The best advice is to drive at your speed without any sudden change in speed or direction and let the deer 's natural instincts take over. Of course it helps a lot to go at a moderate speed in the circumstances where this can happen.
  • Use the headlights of other cars to help you watch for deer or elk. Be on the lookout for any shadows moving inside the lights of other cars for signs of deer or elk.
  • Stay in a hotel, detour to the gutter to rest, or stay where you are and you can leave later if you feel driving around deer / elk is too dangerous. Better to arrive alive and late than to get hurt or die from being punctual.
  • Be more careful if there is a fire. Deer and other animals move very far from fire and will cross roads farther than their usual places. Even if the fire is miles away, be vigilant at all times for any animals that wander away from the scene of a fire.
  • Watch for water that intersects the road. Streams, swamps, and bogs are very attractive to deer and elk. The road is an easy exit from these canals and streams for animals, so there is a greater chance that they will be found there.
  • Think about how you would react in a situation where a deer or elk appears in front of you, beforehand. This prior mental preparation will make you react better and more calmly.
  • A deer means there are more deer. Deer travel in herds and if you see one, slow down as there may be many more. Moose are less gregarious, so a moose generally means there is only one moose, although it is also possible that there are more moose in the area. And the females often have young close by.
  • Deer sometimes freeze when they see the headlights of the car as you approach, even if they are not directly on the road, only to run into the road when you are driving close to them. In some instances this will end with a deer crashing into the side of the car. It's a difficult behavior to react to, as slowing down could cause the deer to crash into the car even more.
  • Another option is to accelerate quickly to pass the animal. It is difficult to choose this option fast enough for it to be effective, since accelerating seems contrary to common sense. However, in the right circumstances, it is your best option to avoid a collision.


  • Moose have dark fur, which makes it more difficult to see them at night. Always drive carefully if you think there are moose nearby.
  • Don't turn on the lights inside the car. This causes a strong reflection on the inside of the windshield that reduces visibility and makes it more difficult to see animals.
  • Don't honk at a moose if there's one on the side of the road like you do to a deer. The moose is an aggressive animal and could charge towards the car, which will hurt you and the car but not the moose if it charges forward with its antlers. Instead, keep driving without changing speed and pass it.
  • The eyes of a moose do not reflect light like those of a deer. The problem is that because moose are so tall, their eyes are above the headlights of most passenger vehicles, making their eyes less likely to reflect the glare of lights, which makes them very harder to see at night.
  • If you veer away from a deer or elk on the road and you hit something else, like a railing or tree, your insurance company may decide that the accident was your fault and make you pay a car accident deductible. If you hit the animal, you would pay a global deductible, which is usually less than the deductible for a car accident.
  • Deer whistles are more of a novelty than a utility; don't expect them to work.
  • Do not drive if you are sleepy or have drunk alcohol. Being sober is not only a requirement for safe driving, it is essential to avoid collisions with animals.
  • Moose are known to kill even wild bears to protect their young. Deer can injure or kill a person to protect their own. Even if you have no intention of hurting the young, the elk or deer may not perceive it this way.
  • These tips will NOT work with other quadrupeds like horses or reindeer and can only be used with deer or elk.
  • Fences along the roads do not ensure your safety. Deer or elk can walk around, through, or on top of them. Don't trust them; For your inner peace, it is better to handle carefully.

Popular by topic