Deer Season: What You Need to Know for Safe Driving

Who doesn’t enjoy fall? Cooling weather, carving pumpkins, picking apples and – befuddled deer trotting into traffic. Whether you are driving a suburban street, rural road, or highway, the threat of a collision with a deer is real.

While deer instantly recognize the immediate threat of a wild or human predator, they have no concept of an approaching vehicle as a threat to life.  For deer, crossing a road is going from one means of survival to another.  The deer are not going to stop, and it is up to us  drivers to be vigilant to avoid a collision.  Here are some tips to remain safe:

  1. Always wear your seatbelt.  This is a fundamental fact and yet 60% of fatal animal crashes occur when the driver was not wearing a seatbelt.
  2. Be alert and know the deer crossing zones. However, remember that many roads are not marked – deer can be on roads, highways, or the outskirts of town.
  3. Use your high beams.  When driving at night, use your high beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic. This is not going to deter the deer, however,  it will increase your visibility and give you time to spot the deer.
  4. Know when deer are on the move.  Be especially careful between 5AM and 8AM, and between 5PM and midnight.  Drivers can be especially vulnerable as many are out  running last-minute errands. Be focused on the drive itself and not what you need to do after reaching a destination.
  5. Don’t rely on devices.  Deer whistles, deer fences, and reflectors have not been proven effective at deterring deer from crossing a road.
  6. Brake firmly.  If you notice a deer near the road,  slow down and stop if necessary.  Be careful not to swerve out of your lane either into oncoming traffic or off the shoulder and into a ditch.
  7. Keep your distance. If you do strike a deer, don’t approach it.  If the deer is blocking the road, call authorities right away.

Deer are creatures of habit. Seasons, time of day, and weather patterns all play an essential part in their routine. Deer will continue to travel the trails of their ancestors long after these trails have been cut through by roads.  It is up to us as drivers to remain proactive, calm, and vigilant.

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