WHITE-TAILED DEER (Odocoileus virginianus) are on the move this time of year and that movement frequently takes them across back roads, urban streets, highways, and other roadways. Motorists are advised to take special precautions this time of year to avoid collisions, especially at dawn and after sunset, and during the hours of 5 p.m. - 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. - 8 a.m. Be extra careful throughout November, as the number of accidents peak during this month. What can drivers around Ohio do to remain safe and decrease their chances of an accident?
* First of all, remember that breeding season for deer is October - December, and although most accidents occur in October and November, remain vigilant through December.
* Oft times when there is one deer, there are more following behind it. If you see one deer cross the road ahead of you, slow down because there may be more on their way across.
* If a deer runs in front of your vehicle, brake firmly but try not to swerve. Swerving can cause the loss of control of your vehicle, which can lead to more damage to you and your car. The Ohio State Highway Patrol reports that more people are injured trying to avoid hitting a deer than those that don't try to avoid the animal.
* Pay special attention to deer crossing signs. They are there for a reason - to alert you of a high deer density area.
* Stay alert and constantly on watch especially during the dawn and dusk hours. Deer can be very unpredictable, especially when frightened. If you pass a deer on the road side, flash your lights at oncoming traffic to alert the other drivers of potential danger - a little warning can go a long way in avoiding an accident.
* Perhaps you have heard of the hood-mounted deer whistles and ultrasonic devices designed to scare away deer? Skip the purchase - wildlife biologists have found no evidence these devices work.
* Don't make the mistake in thinking that you will only encounter deer crossing roads in rural parts of the state. In fact, urban and suburban areas are also prime sites for deer vehicle collisions. More and more frequently, urban areas around Ohio are becoming home to substantial white-tailed deer populations.
* Finally, and possibly most important - because a deer-vehicle collision cannot always be avoided no matter how vigilant you are - wear your seat belt. Luckily, most deer vehicle collisions don't results in human fatalities; however, the number of crash deaths is increasing in almost every state, including Ohio, which is one of the top 5 states with the highest fatalities. In a study completed by the Highway Loss Data Institute, 60% of the people killed in an animal collision accident were not wearing their seat belts. So be sure to buckle up.
Be safe on the roads this fall season!
Author: Danae Wolfe