Did you know that it is deer mating season? Unless you have a particular interest in these creatures, chances are that you know little of their mating habits. It is during this time of year that deer are particularly active as they scour the woods looking for their soul mates.
It is also the time of year that more cars are on the road. People across the country are packing their trunks and heading to friends’ and family’s homes for holiday celebrations. According to the Insurance Information Institute, there are 1.6 million deer-versus-vehicle collisions each year. These collisions result in injury or fatality, not to mention property damage totaling over $3.6 billion.
It is difficult to prepare for a wild animal darting out in front of your car, but there are ways that you can minimize your risk of being involve in a collision of this type. Follow these tips to help yourself avoid becoming a statistic.
1. Where There Is One, There Are More
Deer rarely travel alone. Anyone who has seen a deer has probably seen at least one more hovering nearby. As pack animals, deer are more comfortable traveling together than they are in traveling alone. If you see one deer on the side of the road, assume that its buddies are close behind. Do not assume that you are in the clear if one animal makes it across the road. Slow down and proceed cautiously, expecting another deer to jump into your path.
2. Know When Deer are Active
It’s an unfortunate reality, but deer are most active when our vision is at its lowest. Keep a close eye out if you are driving near dusk or dawn. Deer are more likely to be looking for their mates at these times of the day, and you are more likely to be on the road after the sun goes down, thanks to Daylight Saving Time. Always assume that there are deer lurking around blind curves and drive accordingly.
3. Wear Your Seat Belt
There is nothing that a seat belt is going to do to prevent your collision with a deer, but it will help you sustain less injury. Hitting a deer can cause catastrophic damage to your car. It can bring you to a halt suddenly or having you careening off the side of the road. Without your seat belt on, you can very likely suffer serious injury or even death. Buckle up.
4. Look for Signs
No, deer don’t only cross at yellow deer-crossing signs, but they are more likely to wander into the road in these areas. Research is conducted yearly and those areas in which deer are most likely to be found in the road are marked with these yellow caution signs. Even if you have never seen a deer in the area before, take heed. The signs are put in place for a purpose.
5. Stay Close to the Center
Obviously you won’t drive down the center of the road itself, but stay as close to the center as is safe to do so. This gives both you and the deer more room to maneuver. Consider the amount of space you have to your right when you are driving close to the center as opposed to driving along hugging the shoulder. Even that foot of extra space means you have more room to maneuver your vehicle.
6. Don’t Swerve
Your natural reaction if you see a deer will be to cut your wheel to avoid the accident. This can be more dangerous that colliding with the animal. If you do see a deer, brake firmly and stay the course. Not only will you avoid potentially hitting another vehicle, but you may avoid hitting the deer. These are unpredictable animals and, when it sees you coming, the deer may very well leap off in a different direction.
7. Sound Your Horn
Many people have come across an animal in the road, sounded their horn to get the animal to move and gotten no reaction. This may be the case with deer as well, but it doesn’t hurt to try. If you see a deer in the road, give one long blast of your horn. In some cases, it may be enough to startle the deer into motion. Experts suggest not relying on whistles are other devices that you can purchase to scare deer away from your vehicle. Most of these devices are ineffective, making them a waste of money.
If you do happen to hit a deer, pull off to the side of the road if it is safe to do so. Turn on your hazard lights and call for emergency services. Resist the urge to approach the deer, but do let dispatchers know of its location. If the deer is injured, it may turn aggressive. Stay in your car and wait for help to arrive.
If you are involved in a car accident in West Palm Beach, contact our office. We will review the details of your accident at no cost to you and advise you of your options. Call today and schedule your appointment.