DOT reminds drivers to slow down, be alert for deer

(WQOW) – Over the next few months, deer will be moving as hunters hit the woods and the rut kicks into full swing. That means drivers need to be alert for deer crossing roads and highways.

Traffic safety officials with the DOT said vehicles hitting deer peaks in October and November as bucks pursue does.

“The best advice for motorists to protect themselves and avoid hitting a deer is to buckle up, slow down and carefully scan the road ahead,” said David Pabst, Director of WisDOT’s Bureau of Transportation Safety. “Deer can be active any time of day, but especially around dusk and dawn. And if you see one deer cross your path, expect more to follow.”

Last year, Wisconsin law enforcement agencies reported 20,521 crashes between deer and vehicles resulting in 641 injuries and nine deaths. Six of those deaths were motorcyclists.

If a collision with a deer is unavoidable, traffic safety officials say the safest option is to stay in your lane and brake firmly. “If you swerve suddenly, you can lose control, resulting in a more serious crash with another vehicle or a stationary object like a tree or utility pole,” Pabst said.

The one exception to the “don’t swerve” recommendation applies to motorcyclists. Motorcycle drivers should slow down, brake firmly and swerve if necessary to avoid hitting the deer, according to the DOT. Motorcyclists should still try to stay within their driving lane to avoid hitting other vehicles or objects.

The DOT offers the following tips:

  • Slow down, eliminate distractions, and make sure all vehicle occupants are buckled up.
  • If you see a deer, reduce speed and blow your horn with one long blast to frighten it away.
  • If a collision with a deer is unavoidable:Brake firmly.
    • Stay in your lane.
    • Avoid sudden swerving which can cause you to lose control of your vehicle and result in a more serious crash.

If you do hit a deer:

  • Get your vehicle safely off the road if possible. Turn on the emergency flashers and call law enforcement. Be prepared to describe your specific location.
  • Generally, it’s safest to stay buckled-up inside your vehicle. Walking along a highway is always dangerous as you could be struck by another vehicle.
  • Don’t attempt to move an injured deer.
Clint Berge

Clint Berge

Clint Berge is the Social Media & Digital Content Manager for Eau Claire's Own WQOW News 18. Report any website issues to him at

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