It seems like the deer population has increased like crazy! The majority of the increase is coming from Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Deer are responsible for over a million accidents a year and costs insurance companies over $4 billion in payouts. With the invasion of its natural habitat, the deer no longer have the space to roam free. We are cutting down trees and taking over wide spaces to build more housing, expand roads, develop highways and other public spaces. The deer are running out of places to live while the human population is continually growing. There was a time when you’d see them more in the cold winter months, but that has changed and now you see them any time of the year, any time of the day or night. While driving on regular roads and even major highways, the sight of a deer on the side of the road that lost its battle with a vehicle is not just disturbing but very scary.
Here’s what you need to know to help you avoid coming into contact with a deer while driving:
- TIMING – Mating season for deer is October thru January, this is when the buck (male deer) is out looking for a doe (female deer). You will see more deer between dusk and dawn, with a peak during sunset to midnight. This is not to say that you will not encounter a deer outside of these times, but these times in particular are peak.
- SPOT – If you see one, there are more than likely others. Deer usually travel in packs and do not usually roam alone. Be on alert and expect to see additional deer pop out from the same area.
- READ – Pay attention to the signs that warn you about a heavy deer presence. The gold signs are diamond shaped and will show a picture of a deer. This is your indication to stay alert for deer crossing.
- HONK – If you spot a deer, a long blast from your horn will more than likely scare the deer and redirect its movement away from your direction.
- HIGH BEAMS – When vehicles are not coming towards you, it’s a good idea to ride with your high beams on to give yourself a better chance of spotting deer. The light may also help to discourage the deer from heading in your direction.
- WEAR – Always wear your seat belt to help prevent injury or death if in the event you collide with a deer. Also make sure that all passengers in your vehicle are wearing their seat belt as well.
- STAY CENTER – Drive in the center of a multi lane road or highway, this is the safest lane if you encounter a deer. Do not tailgate as this will only cause you to be involved in the accident if the car in front of you encounters a deer.
- MAINTAIN CONTROL – If you hit a deer while driving your vehicle, remain calm and maintain control. Most vehicle accidents with deer are made worse because the driver swerved to miss the deer and hit other moving vehicles or stationary objects like a tree.
- BRAKE – Remain in your lane as you brake firmly, remain calm and in control. It is understandable to be shaken but you hitting just the deer will be a far better outcome than hitting the deer as well as other objects.
- DEER WHISTLES – Items with a high pitched sound that can be attached to your car to keep deer from entering in your area are not a guarantee to work. Some people swear by them others doubt their effectiveness. Having something like this on your vehicle can’t hurt just as long as it is not a false sense of security and you rely solely upon it.
- CALL – If you hit a deer, never approach it. With all of the excitement you can be putting yourself in serious danger. Pull over to a safe area, make sure everyone is your vehicle is fine and call 911 to report the accident. You will want to also contact your insurance company to report the incident and the damage. Make sure to take loads of pictures of the incident and evidence of the deer on your bumper or hood so that there is no question about the facts.