If asked to name the deadliest US animal, you might think of mountain lions, alligators, or even the mosquito. However, it's the unassuming deer who claims the greatest number of US lives, killing an average of 120 people each year. The primary cause of these deaths is auto-deer, motorcycle-deer, and ATV-deer collisions that can cause serious injury or death to both parties. Those who live in deer-dense regions may want to take some precautionary measures to avoid collision or minimize the damage your vehicle suffers in a collision with a deer or other large animal. Read on to learn more about deer-proofing your vehicle and your driving habits.

Install a glass protection kit

Although modern auto windows are engineered to shatter into hundreds of tiny blunt-sided pieces rather than dangerous shards, a safely shattered windshield can still allow a deer to fly into you at a high rate of speed. Reinforcing your window with a clear sheet of film or plastic especially designed for auto glass use may be the difference between keeping the glass in one piece (if cracked) and providing some sort of shield between the outside elements and the passengers.

These window films can generally be installed with a DIY kit, but they can also be professionally applied by a window tinting service or auto glass repair shop.

Consider deer whistles

Many swear by these whistles, which -- like dog whistles -- are alleged to emit an ultra-high-pitched squeal that deters deer from crossing the roadway anywhere in your vicinity. These small whistles are attached on either side of your front bumper facing forward, and only work in concert; losing one whistle may render the other one ineffective. Because of the simplicity, ease of installation, and low cost of these whistles, they can be a no-brainer for anyone who lives in an area with frequent deer collisions.

Upgrade your bumper

For trucks and sport utility vehicles, the ability to fling items up and away from the grill of your vehicle is key to avoiding damage in just about any type of collision with an unfixed object (from mailboxes to deer). If you have a factory-installed bumper and have been considering a meaner look anyway, you may want to purchase and install a bumper that has a steep angle -- almost like the prow of a ship -- to fully protect the grill (and your vehicle's "guts") from damage in a collision.