White-tailed deer and fawn standing in field at Big Meadows in the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.
March 17, 2023

What to Do If You Hit an Animal With Your Vehicle

What do you do if you hit an animal with your vehicle?

Despite all of our caution and care, there are times when accidents happen—and in areas of high animal activity, animal-vehicle collisions are sometimes unavoidable. But unavoidable does not have to mean tragic. After ensuring the safety of the people in your car, there are steps that you can take to lend a helping hand to wildlife when your paths collide, or at the very least to clear the scene so that no one else gets hurt. Learning and sharing these often-unknown processes not only makes for an easier conscience and more efficient damage control, but also contributes to a culture of habitat connectivity: when we know how to use our resources to fix inevitable collisions, these collisions become more manageable, and the results less destructive to wildlife populations.

What to Do If You Hit an Animal With Your Vehicle

Here is an infographic, by Wild Virginia intern Haley Freeborn, on what do to if you experience an animal vehicle collision, who to call, what to report, and other preventable actions to avoid future crashes.

First and foremost, remain calm, regain control of your vehicle. When it is safe, pull over, and turn on your hazard lights.

DURING A CRASH: Honk or brake, fight instinct to swerve. Swerving can cause you to lose control of your vehicle, run into oncoming traffic, or hit the animal anyway.

Hit gas at the last moment before impact.

If impact is inevitable, this will slightly raise the front end of your car, giving you the best chance of hitting animal with your front bumper. Slamming on

brakes may cause animal to collide with your windshield.


  • Animals are most active in the early morning and evening (dawn & dusk)
  • Collisions are known to spike during deer mating season (Oct-Jan) and spring (May-June)

Feature photo of deer by Lori A. Cash