Metro-East Living

Hitting a deer with your vehicle can be a troubling — and expensive — experience

What to do if you hit a deer

Tips on what to do if you hit a deer while driving
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Tips on what to do if you hit a deer while driving

Oh, deer, I said last month, after my car slammed into a deer on Interstate 64 in Missouri.

Actually I don’t think I said anything out loud, but what I thought would have to be censored. I had kept my little bright blue car so shiny and driven so carefully, I did think as I braked to a stop and popped on the emergency flashers.

I was headed to the farm in Missouri, tooling along at 65 mph just before the highway connects to Interstate 70 in Wentzville. All of a sudden I saw a quick flash of color out of the corner of my right eye and then — POW — a deer ran into the right front corner of my exactly 11-month-old car

Unlike the metro-east woman who ran into a tree while trying to dodge a deer, I had no time to react. It didn’t hurt me but my dog, Maxie, who is 16 and not too steady on her feet, bounced off the back of my seat and ended up down on the floorboard, unhurt but looking confused. She never trusts me and I guess this is one of the reasons why.

I hopped out and surveyed the damage, hoping that the liquid on the ground was from the windshield wiper tank and not the radiator. Fluid and little pieces of the plastic tank were on the ground and it indeed was windshield wiper fluid. I knew because I could see that the reservoir for the radiator was untouched where the front car that usually covers such things wasn’t there anymore. Neither was the headlight or most of that corner of the car.

Well, some of it was there but it was bent back around the right front tire. My car looked like a face with the right side caved in, missing an eye.

2020 Wally Spiers
Wally Spiers

Luckily a deputy sheriff from Lincoln County, Missouri., was cruising behind me and he kindly stopped to offer assistance, even though I was in St. Charles County. We determined that the car probably could still be driven. He went to his car and brought back a couple of bungee cords, wrapped the plastic fender back around the front and tied it off.

I drove the hour or so back to Belleville at a more sedate pace. The display in the center of my driver’s dashboard told me only that “Windshield washer fluid is low.” Seemed odd to have only that warning with all the damage I saw.

It was only after a half-hour or so of driving that the car decided to tell me that “Headlight assembly inoperative.” And later it added that “Front sensors not functioning,” or something like that.

But those were just quick updates. After displaying those messages, the screen still kept insisting that the windshield washer fluid was low, as if that was the most important thing in the world and never mind the other damage.

After a few weeks in the car hospital and after I wrote a check for my insurance deductible, my car is purring along again. But as I drove away, the car insisted once more that “Windshield washer fluid is low.”

Maybe they forgot to fill the new tank, I thought, as I stopped and bought some fluid to top it off. Nope, the screen continued to insist that “Windshield washer fluid is low.” It still washed the windshield but apparently the new parts that sensed when it was empty were faulty. Everything is fixed now, but what a cost. Thank heavens for insurance.

State Farm Insurance says that the average cost of hitting a deer is more than $4,000. A story I just read talked about how much more it is costs to fix cars these days with all the new equipment. That was true in my case as the damage totaled nearly $7,000.

Everything is fixed but it doesn’t make me any more comfortable now when I’m driving. I’ve had my driver’s license for 50 years and have had a few accidents, some my fault. But never have I come that close to hitting a deer. I guess I was due.

State Farm says the odds of hitting a deer in Missouri are 1 in 112. Illinois is better at 1 in 204, so I guess I should stay home more. Maybe I’m safer because it would seem that the odds of hitting two deer have to be longer. But I’m not betting on it. Maybe I’m due again.

Wally Spiers: