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Swerving to Avoid a Deer? Think Again

Columbus, Ohio -- A SWAT officer is recovering at home Thursday after an SUV he drove struck a deer on eastbound I-70, sending the vehicle veering across the median.

The odds of a vehicle hitting a deer in Ohio are one in 161, according to a recent report from State Farm Insurance. Nationally, the odds of a vehicle striking a deer are one in 208.

Surviving an encounter with a deer or other animal that darts out into the road may mean a driver ignoring a very common reaction -- to swerve. David Roush, a defensive driving teacher at Mid-Ohio's Driving School, suggested some basic avoidance moves.

Roush said, "There's a ton of deer. I actually had that experience last year around this time. I hit a deer with my truck."

In the best-case scenario Roush says, "We would hope you have your eyes up and notice the deer far ahead, and perhaps anticipate a solution where you've already slowed down."

Using random red and green lights to simulate seeing a deer, Roush maneuvered a car defensively along a track to show how to avoid losing control.

Roush said, "If you look at the object, there's a pretty good chance you're gonna hit it. Don't look at the object. Look at where you want to go, the point of least resistance."

Swerving, Roush says, is one of the most common mistakes drivers make, potentially doing more harm than good.

"I hear it everyday. 'I swerved to miss a possum or a raccoon or any type of animal. I lost control of my car, it rolled.' Sometimes it includes killing your best friend in the passenger seat," he said.

"Don't have the reaction that you have to swerve to avoid," Roush said.

Ironically, hitting the deer could turn out to be a much safer choice.

Click here to see video from the report.
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