What to do if you hit a deer while driving in Utah

Local News

Courtesy: DWR

UTAH (ABC4) – Spring is here and summer is quickly approaching. It’s been a long year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Utahns are ready to hit the road for some much-needed exploring. 

More Utahns hitting the roadways means an increase in vehicle/wildlife collisions. If you’re a local to Utah, you have likely heard differing suggestions on what to do or who to call if you hit a deer while traveling.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, DWR, says the typical migration period for deer in Utah is in April and May, and then again in November, which is also when the highest number of vehicle and deer collisions occur in Utah.

According to a DWR study, there were approximately 10,000 deer-vehicle collisions in 2012. Numbers are estimated to have decreased due to more fences and wildlife bridges being installed along migration routes across Utah highways in recent years. 

In 2020, there were 5,298 deer killed by vehicles reported, the DWR tells ABC4.

DWR officials say deer are more active early in the morning and in the evenings, which coincides with busy commuting hours. This is also when low-light conditions make it difficult for drivers to see.

The DWR shares the following tips for how to avoid wildlife collisions: 

  • Be especially alert at dawn and dusk.
  • Heed wildlife crossing signs. These signs are usually placed in areas known to have a high volume of wildlife/vehicle collisions.
  • Be alert on roadways near wooded, agricultural, and wetland areas and also near lakes and streams.
  • Scan both sides of the road as you drive. Invite passengers to help watch for wildlife.
  • Do not drive distracted. Put away food, phones, and other distractions.
  • When possible, use high-beam headlights to better illuminate the road.
  • Look for an animal’s eyeshine, which can be seen from a distance. Slow down once you have spotted an animal near the roadside.
  • Some animals travel in groups, so be sure to watch for additional animals if you see one.
  • Do not throw trash out of your vehicle. Not only are there penalties for littering on a highway, but trash and food scraps can also draw animals to roadways.

If you see an animal near or on the road, the DWR recommends you do the following: 

  • Do not swerve for a deer or small animal. Stay in your lane and slow down.
  • If several animals are standing in the road, do not try to drive through them or get out of the vehicle to chase or herd them. Honk your horn and flash your lights to encourage them to move on.
  • If an animal has crossed the road, continue to drive slowly and be cautious because it may try to cross again.

If you hit an animal, the DRW recommends the following: 

  • Pull off the road and use your hazard lights if your car is undriveable.
  • Do not try to approach an injured animal.
  • Call 911 or contact your local police department if you were injured or if the animal is in the roadway and could pose a threat to public safety.

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