It was 5 p.m. on a perfect summer evening. Melissa Moore, 54, was driving her 2017 Subaru Forester on the rural highway just outside Whitehall, Michigan, the town where she lives. She admits the new car purchase had been an exciting step up from years of utilitarian minivans; the Bluetooth, the touchscreens, the newfound luxury, all had made her a little lax on even asking questions about the safety features of the vehicle.
“I knew Subaru had a great reputation,” she admits. “But it still wasn’t like me to not check out safety options.” A deer helped her check most of them out, all at once. A seatbelt and a lot of airbags saved her from certain injury, if not worse.
Most of us think we’ll have time to avoid a deer strike. With your vision up in areas you know deer to frequent (there were four collisions with deer on that day alone where Melissa met hers), the blunt truth is that they often come out of nowhere, and directly into your vehicle. You don’t have any braking distance.
“It was maybe five feet away from me; it happened so fast, it came from the passenger side of the car,” says Moore. “All I could think later was how grateful I was that my 14-year-old daughter wasn’t sitting there. She’s often with me.”
The speed limit in the area is 55 mph (about 88 km/h), the speed she was maintaining. If you factor in driver reaction time, you need about 300 feet (91 metres) to stop a vehicle with good brakes on dry pavement. There was zero chance that deer wasn’t going to land in that Subaru. In fact, it carried on across the road and hit another vehicle, which in turn hit the ditch and was totalled.
Responders figure Melissa managed to hit the brakes and began to steer. Damage to the car is on the front and down the driver’s side. All the airbags in the Forester were deployed, except the…