Oh, deer: Street View and road safety reminders

Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 4:15 PM


Gathering the imagery for Street View requires quite a bit of driving; as such, we take safety very seriously. Unfortunately, accidents do happen -- as some people have noticed, one of our Street View cars hit a deer while driving on a rural road in upstate New York. Due to several user requests using the "Report a concern" tool, these images are no longer available in Street View. 

The driver was understandably upset, and promptly stopped to alert the local police and the Street View team at Google. The deer was able to move and had left the area by the time the police arrived. The police explained to our driver that, sadly, this was not an uncommon occurrence in the region -- the New York State Department of Transportation estimates that 60,000-70,000 deer collisions happen per year in New York alone -- and no police report needed to be filed. 

Because this is on our minds, we want to take the opportunity to share some reminders on how to avoid an accident and what to do should you find yourself in such a situation. Robert Sinclair from AAA New York suggests the following tips for drivers:
  • Pay extra attention during pre-dawn and dusk hours.
  • Slow down. If a deer runs in front of your vehicle, driving at or below the speed limit reduces the likelihood of serious injury to yourself and your passengers.
  • Buckle up. Your odds of walking away from a collision with a deer improve dramatically if you and all your passengers are wearing seat belts.
  • Use your high beams (when no oncoming cars are present) and watch for the reflection of deer eyes and silhouettes on the shoulders of roads.
If you won't be able to avoid colliding with a deer:
  • Don't swerve.  Few drivers die or are seriously injured in direct collisions with deer.  The greater risk is from veering into oncoming traffic, a tree, or off the road.
  • Brake until the last fraction of a second before impact, then let off your brakes.  This will cause the front of your car to rise, increasing the odds that the struck deer will pass underneath your car, rather than be lifted into your windshield.
  • If you do strike a deer, do not try to touch it or move it yourself.  Despite your kind intentions, an injured deer might panic and harm you. Contact police or other authorities for assistance.
We're sad that this accident occurred and we consider ourselves fortunate that our driver was not injured.