Get caught in a lie and the other person might tell you, “you’ve got that deer in the headlight look on your face.”  The phrase is even in some songs by Sia, Owl City and Collin Raye.  But seeing a deer stare at you while you’re driving down the road is downright scary.  


I was wondering why they don’t run so I did some research and learned from  Whitetail Deer’s eyes are designed to see fine at night (think night vision goggles) but that they literally freeze when it goes from dark to light quickly.  The problem with great night vision is, if exposed to a bright light it’s blinding.  The problem with deer is they stand still till their eyes adjust to the new light level.  It can take up to a minute or two for their eyes to adjust and that’s way too long unless you have room to come to a stop before you hit them.  Deer eyes are different than human eyes:

§  Their eyes their eyes have more rods than cones (rods are responsible for vision at low light levels)

§  Their pupils are a horizontal slit, which allows it to open very wide and cast a lot of light onto their lenses (unlike human eyes have a round pupil that can open and close a small amount)

§  The back of a deer’s eye, across the retina, has a reflective substance (called tapetum lucidum) so if you see a deer’s eye reflecting back at you from a light source, you’re seeing the reflection of this shiny substance on the back of their eyes.


When driving there are areas where you expect to come across deer on the road, but in others they can surprise you.  Understanding how they see helps you understand that they will not move if caught in the headlight beams.  It’s not how they were designed.  I remembered things I learned as a country roads driver when I was younger:

§  Deer are more active around sunset and sunrise times, and even more so from October to December since it’s mating season

§  If there’s a deer crossing sign…it’s there for a reason, be mentally prepared to stop because they pop up quickly

§  If you see one, there are more you don’t see…slow it down and drive with caution

§  Wear your seatbelts!

§  Sad, but don’t swerve to avoid the poor deer because you can cause more damage to other people and it goes from a comp claim to an accident and you could


Why talk about deer (and other large animals, depending where you live)?  Because they can cause a lot of damage and worse.  Because the National Highway Safety Administration (NHSA) has conducted studies concerning the increasing dangers from deer-related vehicle accidents:

There are approximately 1.5 million deer-related car accidents annually

The cost of these accidents results in over $1 billion dollars in vehicle damage

There are around 175-200 fatalities every year and 10,000 injuries

Most of these accidents occur between October and December, but can happen year round

A large percentage of deer-related accidents occur in the Midwest with Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio in the top ten states for fatal deer collisions every year


Contact Solo Insurance for more information about insurance or to get a quote.




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