HAMILTON – It’s deer mating season. That means you need to keep a watchful eye for deer at dusk and dawn when they are most amorous. Frisky white-tailed deer will go to any length to mate, and that includes right into the path of your vehicle, AAA Mid-Atlantic warns. Deer-vehicle crashes can be costly and deadly, the auto club advises.
“As motorists are enjoying the beautiful fall foliage, they need to be mindful that deer are literally on the prowl with only one goal in sight – finding a mate,” said Tracy Noble, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “If a deer-vehicle collision is unavoidable, don’t swerve out of your lane or lose control of your vehicle.”
Deer mating season begins in late October and continues through December. It is not by happenstance that more crashes occur from October through January. Remember that deer are herd animals, so if you see one, more are likely nearby.
“Keep in mind, deer can run as fast as 40 miles per hour,” Noble added. “They may suddenly bolt onto the road, catching motorists off guard and resulting in serious vehicle damage, personal injury, or even death. We urge area motorists to be especially aware during this time of year as commuting times coincide with high times of deer activity.”
Given the presence and prevalence of deer this time of year, area drivers should always wear a seat belt and drivers should remain awake, alert and sober, advises the auto club. Deer tend to be on the move and in the mood during the same hours as the morning and evening commutes – at dusk and at dawn.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates that approximately 1.6 million deer-motor vehicle crashes occur each year on roads across the nation. These collisions make up over $3.6 billion in vehicle damage per year, with each incident averaging $3,000 worth of damage, based on statistics from the IIHS.
“Insurance agents say most damage from deer collisions occurs in the front or on the side of a car,” said Heather Foti, an Insurance Counselor with AAA Insurance. “If involved in a crash, our insurance agents encourage drivers to first call local law enforcement for assistance and then to make note of the date, time, street name and take any pictures to help document the incident.
The deer population in the United States is estimated at 20 to 30 million. While driving this fall, AAA insurance agents recommend drivers keep the following tips in mind to stay safe on roadways:
- Buckle up and do not speed. A decrease in speed gives you more time to react.
- Be observant. Look for deer-crossing signs indicating areas where deer frequently travel. Deer are creatures of habit and may often use the same path again – remember where you see them.
- Be alert. A deer standing near a roadside may suddenly run across the road. Slow down and use your horn to scare the deer. Never shine or flash your vehicle’s lights. This can cause the deer to fixate on your vehicle. Use high-beams for greater visibility.
- Look for groups. Deer travel in groups, so if you see one crossing the road ahead slow down, as there are probably others in the area but out of view.
- Never swerve. Instead, slow down and brake. Swerving can cause you to lose control of your vehicle and strike another vehicle or object along the roadway.
- Do not rely on devices. There is no conclusive evidence that hood-mounted deer whistles and other such devices work.
- Slow down. If a crash with a deer is unavoidable, AAA recommends slowing down and releasing your foot from the brake before impact. This will raise the front end of the car during the crash and increase the likelihood that the animal will go underneath the vehicle instead of through the windshield.
- Do not try to move a deer. An injured deer might panic and seriously injure a Good Samaritan. Call police or animal control for assistance.
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