Hunting season for deer is underway, making them a familiar part of our landscape and potential hazards for drivers.
“This coupled with the fact that they are seeking food and escape from hunters, translates into potentially dangerous driving situations. The catch phrase ‘deer in the headlights’ is never more likely to be a reality than at this time,” said Sheriff Craft.
According to the Highway Loss Data Institute’s (HLDI) senior vice president, Kim Hazelbaker, “Urban sprawl means suburbia and deer habitat intersect in many parts of this country….If you’re driving in areas where deer are prevalent, the caution flag is out, especially in November.” The study found that insurance claims are nearly three times higher during November than the typical months earlier in the year. “The months with the most crash deaths coincide with fall breeding season,” said Ann McCartt, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s senior vice president for research.
Recent insurance figures indicate that close to a million deer are hit by cars each year, with the average cost of repairs around $1500. Additionally, thousands of serious injuries and even deaths result from these crashes. In fact, the HLDI study found that fatalities are up 50% since 2000.
Consider the following facts:
About 80 percent of all deer-related crashes occur on two-lane roads between dusk and dawn, leaving the remaining 20 percent of deer crashes in cities.
Deer are unpredictable, especially when faced with glaring headlights, blowing horns and fast moving vehicles.
Deer are herding animals. If you see one, there are likely more.
Because deer-related accidents present considerable potential for property damage, injury and death, Sheriff Craft is offering some guidelines for safe communing between our local wildlife and vehicles.
Stay alert, awake and sober.
Always wear your seat belt. The study found that 60% of the people killed weren’t using safety belts.
Be attentive to deer crossing signs.
Deliberately look for deer and slow down if you see any.
Drive at or below the posted speeds where deer-crossing signs are present.
Be extra vigilant at dawn and dusk, the time of day when deer tend to travel.
Use high beams after dark when there is no opposing traffic. Watch for the lights to fall on the eyes of deer, which will be illuminated red.
Scan the sides of the road.
If you see a deer, slow down gradually and flash your high-beam headlights on and off several times and deliver short blasts of your horn.
One deer is likely to be followed by more. See one as a signal to slow down and proceed with caution.
If a deer is in your path, do not swerve to avoid hitting it. Try to brake firmly and maintain full control of your vehicle.
Always observe the safe distance driving rule, also known as the four second or more cushion, keeping at least that many seconds between your vehicle and the one in front in case a car you are following must swerve or stop for a deer.
Craft concluded, “Deer-vehicle collisions exact high costs in terms of injuries and deaths; not to mention the economic costs. The best way to prevent these collisions is vigilance, pure and simple.”
For more information go to www.iihs.org