There are a lot of bad decisions you might make if a deer appears in front of you in the road while you’re driving. You’ll be startled, it will freeze, and your brain will sound the alarm that you should do something now—but please, avoid the urge to swerve around it.
The reaction is understandable. You don’t want to hit the deer. But the deer probably does see you, even if it’s standing still at first. By the time you get close, it’s likely going to jump. And if you swerve at just that moment, well, it may jump into you.
But even aside from the damage you might do to the deer, swerving is dangerous for you. A sudden change of direction at high speed can cause you to roll your car, or hit a tree, or send yourself into a ditch.
What should you do if a deer jumps into the road?
First, slow down. Don’t slam on the brakes if it’s not safe to do so (like if the road is icy), but do safely reduce your speed as much as you can. This will buy you and the deer more time to react, and it means that if you do collide, the collision will happen at a lower speed.
Next, notice your surroundings. Deer tend to travel in groups, often crossing a road single file, so there are probably more where this one came from. If they are on the move when you approach, they’ll probably keep going in the same direction. Try to steer (not swerve) behind the last deer in line. But be aware that there may be another just out of sight.
If a deer is standing still in the middle of the road, staring at you with that “deer in the headlights” look, it will probably jump at the last minute—and it could go in any direction. Don’t attempt to guess. Just head toward it, slowing down as much as you can, and wait for it to make a move.
You may not have the time or presence of mind to think of other drivers, but if you do, flash your brights to warn oncoming cars of the danger. (The deer may hop into their lane.)
What about avoiding other animals?
I live in one of the states with the highest wildlife collision rates, so I’m going to be honest with you. If I see anything smaller than a deer in the road, my philosophy is simply: fuck ’em.
I am not going to risk crashing a minivan full of kids because a squirrel with a death wish appeared at the last minute. I’m not heartless. I will feel bad if I squish the squirrel. But that’s the choice I’ve made.
I will briefly tap the brakes for a squirrel or bunny, and wish them luck. I will slow down as best as I safely can for a deer or a dog. I do absolutely nothing if the animal in the road is a bird; they always fly away.
Larger animals are rare where I live, but the danger they pose is real. If you live in moose country, people die in moose crashes. (Their legs are so long that their bodies tends to hit the passenger compartment in a crash.) Your best defense against a moose crash is to slow down so that whatever happens, it happens at the slowest speed possible.
And definitely do not speed up if an animal is in the road. There’s a myth that it’s better to hit a moose at high speed to try to flip it over your car. Don’t do that. Similarly, people sometimes misunderstand the advice not to swerve around a deer to mean that you should try to hit the deer head-on. Don’t do that either. If you approach at a slower speed and the deer jumps out of the way, that gives both of you the best chance of surviving.
And to avoid a collision in the first place, pay attention. Drive cautiously in the early morning, late evening, and anytime it’s dark or foggy. You can often see a deer’s eyes shining in the bushes before it jumps out in front of you, and they tend to follow predictable paths. Those “deer crossing” signs are legit, so when you see one, pay attention.
original source: Why You Shouldn’t Swerve Around Deer (or Other Animals) in the Road