Why Do Deer Jump in Front of Cars? (Their Actions Explained)

Deer normally jump in front of cars because they are scared. It is nothing deliberate. This is their natural reaction when frightened.

Deer are easily spooked. They are always alert to danger and even the slightest sound can put them on edge. This is an adaptation they’ve developed over many years to enable them to evade predators in the wild.

Why Do Deer Jump in Front of Cars

What Makes Deer Jump in front of Cars?

Deer are startled by loud noises and bright lights. These activate their flight response and they accidentally end up running towards the road instead of away from it.

Deer have large eyes located on the sides of their heads. This enables them to have a very large field of view for spotting things. Their eyes are also adapted to enable them to see clearly in very dark conditions.

Car headlights, when shone on their eyes, temporarily blind deer making them not to see where they are running to.

Because of this, they might end up jumping onto the road just as a vehicle approaches.

Deer also have very acute hearing. Their ears are cup shaped to amplify sound enabling them to pinpoint exactly where the sound originates from.

Car noises are usually interpreted by deer as predator noises as they are not accustomed to them. This ends up scaring them causing them to run. They might accidentally end up on the road where they are hit by cars.

How can Deer Accidents be Prevented?

One way to avoid deer accidents is to change the roads to make them safer.

Deer wander off to roads for various reasons. They might be looking for food, a mate, or going back to their sleeping spots. For whatever reason, precautions must be taken to ensure the safety of both the deer and driver.

1. First, signs could be put up where deer tend to be spotted. The signs are there to warn the drivers to be alert when driving through a particular section of the road. This way, they can be able to spot deer on the side of the road and be prepared to react effectively.

2. Fences can also be erected. The purpose of these is to prevent the deer from coming too close to the road where they might end up being crashed into.

3. Speed limits and speed cameras could also be placed in areas with high deer populations. It is common knowledge that the faster you are moving the harder it is to come to a stop or to react when something sudden happens.

With speed limits set and speed cameras installed, drivers will slow down to avoid getting in trouble with the law. This will effectively reduce the number of crashes and save deer population.

4. Devices could also be installed that warn deer of incoming traffic. Reflectors for instance work perfectly when light is shone on them creating a fake fence illusion that deters the deer from moving onto the road as cars approach.

Deer deter devices are also perfect for keeping deer off roads. They combine ultra-sonic, high pitched sounds and strobe light effects to keep deer away from roadways.

5. Green bridges are also perfect to save deer from traffic. These allow them to cross safely to the other side without interacting with traffic. They’re common, for example, on the trans-Canada highway.

How to Avoid Hitting a Deer

It is often advised when a deer jumps in front of a car that the driver avoid swerving to prevent collisions.

It is natural that you try and stop before hitting the deer. As soon as it pops up in front of you be sure to hit the brakes hard to stop the car.

Another natural instinct is to try and swerve away from the animal. This is however not advisable as you might end up swerving onto oncoming traffic which is worse than hitting the deer itself.

By swerving, one might also end up driving off the road and end up crashing into trees or other animals by the roadside

There are various things to keep in mind when driving through a deer populated area:

  1. Be alert – deer often hide behind shrubs and bushes when on the side of the road where they are hard to spot. Watch for movement from the side of the road to be able to react appropriately when something sudden happens.
  2. Watch out for more deer – deer often travel in herds. When one crosses the road in front of you slow down and watch out for more. Fawns are also often behind their mothers and should also be watched out for.
  3. Use extra caution during their most active hours – research shows that deer tend to be more active between 5pm-10pm and 5am-8am. This is because deer are crepuscular animals. During these times there is a high probability that they will stray into the open.
  4. Take extra caution during fall – deer are known to be more active during fall. It is during this time that they are feeding more and trying to stock up on food for winter. They might stray to the road side in search of food.

What do you Do when you Hit a Deer?

Ensure the safety of the deer, you and other road users first and foremost.

Some examples of things you could do are as follows:

1. Park the car by the side of the road and turn off the engine. Set up hazard cones or hazard lights to alert oncoming traffic of danger on the road. This protects the deer from further damage if it is not already dead.

2. It is also advisable not to touch the deer even if it seems dead. It might only be frozen because of the shock and might attack when approached. One should however contact emergency services and alert them of what happened.

3. Finally it is advised not to hit and run. Even if the deer might only seem slightly injured, a simple phone call could potentially save its life. 


Deer accidents are common. So, a lot of caution should be exercised when driving through deer populated areas. Be sure to react appropriately when in such situations, be it before a crash or after.

Proper measures should be taken to keep deer off roads. By exercising caution and having the right preventive measures deer accidents could reduce, ensuring the safety of both the deer and motorists.

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