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June 02, 2017 @ 12:00am

Summer is officially in full swing! This wonderful time of the year comes with days at the beach, road trips, and… avoiding large animals? Unfortunately, that is the case. According to State Farm, an estimated 1.25 million claims are filed annually due to collisions with deer, elk, and moose. For those of us who live in Iowa, we understand this problem all too well. Here are some tips that we at Car-X Des Moines recommend to keep you and your vehicle safe on the road this summer.

Location and Time of Day

Where and when you drive can increase your chances of colliding with an animal. The surrounding landscape along your route can be an indicator of whether or not deer may be close by. Take extra caution when driving around:


  • Timber
  • Woods
  • Rivers/Streams
  • Crop fields


It is almost impossible to avoid these environments no matter where you are in Iowa. That’s why keeping a constant eye on the road will help you prepare in case an animal does decide to cross. According to the Iowa State Patrol, deer are most likely to be found by roads during dawn and dusk feeding hours. Recognizing that your odds of hitting a deer increase around these times of day can help keep you safe if you pay attention.

Don’t Swerve

At some point you might find yourself driving 65 mph down a highway when an unsuspecting deer decides to cross in front of you. In this moment, you are confronted with a split second decision: do you hit the deer or try and swerve out of the way? If the animal is unavoidable, hit it with your vehicle. It might seem like the wrong thing to do, but attempting to swerve at high speeds can ultimately lead to your car flipping and rolling multiple times. On top of that, it may be hard to prove to your insurance provider that you were in fact dodging an animal if you never hit one. In 2005, the Iowa State Patrol started the “Don’t Veer for Deer” campaign and saw a 60% drop in deer-car crash fatalities as a result. These situations are never easy and there really is no way to prepare yourself for it when it happens. However, deciding now to not swerve to miss an unavoidable animal can make your split second decision a little easier.

Immediate Help

You have just hit a deer or something nearly the same size, what do you do? Follow these instructions closely:


  1. Turn your hazard lights on. If possible, move your car over to the shoulder so that traffic can continue if you are blocking the road.
  2. Call the police. Have an officer come out and fill out an official report so that you can have proof for an insurance claim. Not having an official report filled out can hurt you while filing claims with your insurance provider.
  3. Stay away from the animal. Even if you hit it at a high speed, there is a chance that it is still alive. A frightened animal can become dangerous if it feels you are threatening to hurt it while it attempts to recover.
  4. Photograph the incident. Make sure there is no traffic around you when you decide to get out of your car. Having photographic evidence is always helpful when you decide to file your insurance claim.
  5. Check the condition of your vehicle. If you have broken lights, leaking hoses, a caved in hood, or anything that deems your car unsafe, call a tow truck. There is no need to try driving your car out of a crash scene if it can’t drive safely.

Unfortunately, you may find yourself in the situation where an animal crosses in front of your vehicle this summer. Although the Department of Transportation does a good job of putting up deer crossing signs to keep drivers alert, there’s no telling when one will pop out. Staying aware of your surroundings can help you judge if you have a chance to brake or if hitting the animal is the safest option. . If your car needs new brakes, Car-X Des Moines is your premier brake service shop in Des Moines, Altoona, and Ames. Drive safe this summer!

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