The breeding season for white-tailed deer in the area runs from October to January, with peak activity taking place in mid-November, leading to an increase of sightings and collisions involving deer vs. drivers.
AAA said that following the shift in clocks for Daylight Savings Time over the weekend, drivers and pedestrians should be most aware of potential collisions with deer between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. during the evening commute.
“More collisions between vehicles and deer occur in November than any other month,” Mark Sisson, vice president of Insurance, AAA East Central said in a statement. “One of our top claims in the winter is for vehicles that have been totaled from hitting animals, and the costs can be staggering.”
State wildlife officials said that drivers should slow down, don’t drive distracted, use your high beams when you can, and brake a little longer if you see just one deer, since often more deer will follow.
Most wildlife-vehicle collisions occur from October through December, many of which are preventable by following simple tips, according to AAA.
“Whether a deer, dog, moose or squirrel, animals on the roadway are unexpected, and their actions can be erratic and unpredictable, creating a dangerous situation for motorists," AAA said.
According to AAA, there are several measures that drivers can take to avoid striking an animal that makes its way into the roadway:
- Scan the road and shoulders ahead of you. Looking ahead helps provide enough reaction time if an animal is spotted. Also, remember some animals move in groups, so when there is one, there are usually more in the area;
- Use high-beam headlights if there’s no oncoming traffic. Wildlife may be spotted sooner when using high beams. This will give the driver time to slow down, move over or honk the horn to scare the animal away. High beams also help in spotting some animals’ reflective eyes;
- If a collision is unavoidable, apply the brakes firmly and remain in your lane. Swerving to avoid an animal can often cause a more serious crash or result in drivers losing control of vehicles;
- Be extra cautious at dawn and dusk. Most animals, especially deer, tend to be more active early in the morning and at dusk;
- Slow down and use extra caution when traveling through areas with a high and active wildlife population. Be aware of increased wildlife movement in some regions during certain times of year, such as hunting or mating season;
- Drivers should always wear a seat belt and remain awake, alert and sober.
According to the Department of Environmental Protection:
- If you spot a deer, slow down and pay attention to possible sudden movement. If the deer doesn’t move, don’t go around it. Wait for the deer to pass and the road is clear.
- Pay attention to “Deer Crossing” signs. Slow down when traveling through areas known to have a high concentration of deer so you will have ample time to stop if necessary.
- If you are traveling after dark, use high beams when there is no oncoming traffic. High beams will be reflected by the eyes of deer on or near roads.
- If you see one deer, be on guard: others may be in the area. Deer typically move in family groups at this time of year and cross roads single-file. Female deer are being chased by bucks and during breeding phase are often unaware of traffic.
- Don’t tailgate. Remember: the driver in front of you might have to stop suddenly to avoid hitting a deer.
- Always wear a seatbelt, as required by law. Drive at a safe and sensible speed, taking into account weather, available lighting, traffic, curves and other road conditions.
- If a collision appears inevitable, do not swerve to avoid impact. The deer may counter-maneuver suddenly. Brake appropriately, but stay in your lane. Collisions are more likely to become fatal when a driver swerves to avoid a deer and instead collides with oncoming traffic or a fixed structure along the road.
- Report any deer-vehicle collision to a local law enforcement agency immediately.
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