Avoiding Deer on the Road

05.01.15   Mark A. Halloway, OHST | More by this Author

Avoiding Deer on the Road

Deer don’t look both ways before crossing a road. Vehicle/deer collisions can cause serious injuries (even death) and significant property damage.

Tips to Help Avoid Collisions

  • First and foremost, always wear your seat belt! Most people injured in vehicle/deer crashes were not wearing their seat belts.
  • Slow down and drive defensively, particularly where deer-crossing signs are posted. Too many times, reports of collision are from people who were in a hurry to go somewhere and not keeping alert for the presence of deer. While driving in these areas, expand your field of vision beyond the road to see the road ditches and wood edges where deer might be standing. If you spot a deer anywhere near a road, immediately decelerate as safely as possible. A standing deer can suddenly panic and dart in any direction. Expect the deer to do the unexpected, like run out in front of your vehicle. Remember, deer often travel in groups so there may be others that you don't see. Use your vehicle’s horn to scare the deer away from the road. Be especially wary during spring and fall. In March and April, roadsides have some of the first greenery of the year available to hungry deer. In the fall season, harvested fields can provide a smorgasbord of snacks for a deer herd. Breeding activity in October and November prompts deer to move around more than usual.
  • Use your lights. Drive with lights on during overcast days and use high beams at night whenever possible. Though headlights from a vehicle tend to confuse deer, the reflecting “night shine” from their eyes helps drivers to see them. Dawn and dusk are the most dangerous times. Low-light hours are when deer are moving most. Nights are especially hazardous because it's hard to see roadside deer until they dash into the headlights. The majority of car-deer incidents happen on two-lane, rural roads between 6:00 pm and 12:00 am, especially during the months of October, November and December.    

What To Do If You Are Going To Hit A Deer

Slow down, and grasp the steering wheel firmly, with both hands. Brake hard, without locking the wheels and skidding, and steer straight. Stay in your lane. Do not use extraordinary measures to avoid the deer. This could put you in greater danger by crossing lanes into oncoming traffic or by hitting things like trees or telephone poles.

What To Do If You Hit A Deer

Stop the vehicle safely, making sure you and any passengers are not hurt. If possible, move the vehicle to the right shoulder and turn on the hazard flashers. Do not approach the deer. You could be injured or forced into traffic by a thrashing animal. Report the crash to the police and your insurance company as soon as possible.

Do not attempt to kill an injured deer or take it before a police officer issues you a highway killed deer permit. Illegal possession of a deer is a misdemeanor punishable by jail, and/or a fine plus the loss of future hunting privileges.

TAGS: Safety

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