As days shorten and the breeding season for deer approaches, the chance of encountering deer on roadways increases significantly.
Deer-vehicle accidents can be minimized by practicing defensive driving. Nearly 50 percent of all vehicle accidents involving white-tailed deer occur between October and December, according to Patrick Mayer of the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife.
Knowing the following information and practicing defensive driving will help reduce your chances of becoming a deer-vehicle collision statistic:
· Deer are most active between sunset and sunrise.
· Deer often travel in groups, so if you see one, another is likely nearby.
· Be especially careful in areas where you have seen deer before.
· Use high beams when there is no opposing traffic; scan for deer’s illuminated eyes or dark silhouettes along the side of the road.
· If you see a deer, slow your speed drastically, even if it is far away.
· Exercise extreme caution along woodlot edges, at hills, or blind turns.
· Never swerve to avoid hitting a deer; most serious crashes occur when drivers try to miss a deer but hit something else.
According to Mayer, drivers should pay attention to traffic signs warning of deer crossings. Deer crossing signs have proven effective at notifying motorists of areas where caution should be exercised, but drivers tend to get accustomed to such signage, reducing their effectiveness over time.
If you hit a deer, remain calm.
“Although gentle in nature, deer that are injured or stressed can be extremely dangerous,” Mayer said. “They have sharp hooves and a powerful kick. Do not approach the animal unless you are positive it has expired.”
Mayer said that deer can be found anywhere in Indiana, including in urban settings, so drivers should be on the lookout no matter where they are. Motorist also should exercise increased vigilance between sunset and sunrise.