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How to Avoid Dying in a Deer Car Crash

Just hit the deer, expert tells author Al Cambronne
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 5, 2015 1:40 PM CST
How to Avoid Dying in a Deer Car Crash
In this photo made Monday, May 21, 2012, a deer crosses a road in Acadia National Park near Northeast Harbor, Maine.   (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

The deadliest animal in North America? The white-tailed deer, writes Al Cambronne, author of a book on deer, for Slate. Each year, 150 people are killed and another 10,000 are injured in more than a million vehicle crashes involving the animal, so Cambronne recently went on a ride-along with a Wisconsin state trooper to come up with some tips for how you can avoid—or survive—such a crash. "Sooner or later, a deer will appear. You will have no warning, and you’ll have only milliseconds to react," Cambronne writes. Trooper Dean Luhman's biggest piece of advice? "Don’t swerve. Hit the damn deer." It's not heartless, it's for your own good: If you do swerve, you'll likely lose control of the car, and from there any number of tragic outcomes can occur.

Of course, if you have time to stop and no one is following you, go ahead and brake. But if not, don't worry about the deer or your car, Luhman advises—your car, after all, can be fixed more easily than your body. More tips to avoid serious injury or avoid a crash entirely: Make sure your headrest is at the correct height to prevent whiplash and that your brakes, lights, and tires work; wear your seatbelt; drive the speed limit; don't tailgate; be extra-vigilant at dawn and dusk; and if you see one deer crossing the road, slow down, because they often travel in groups. Oh, and if you see a deer that's already been hit? Don't slow to gawk or stop to saw off the antlers. "More than once, I’ve been to a crash where someone stopped" to do just that, causing someone to crash into their vehicle, Luhman says. Click for the full piece. (More deer stories.)

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