Drivers, don’t dodge the deer

Nearly 700 crashes in 2015 involved deer in the Miami Valley area

R-H Staff

DAYTON – October ushers in the deadly “deer crash” season. During the fall there is a sharp increase in the number deer versus driver encounters, according to AAA officials.

Last year in Ohio there were more than 21,000 deer crashes causing nearly 900 injuries and four deaths. In the Miami Valley area there were 1,463 deer crashes, and nearly half of those crashes (699) occurred during the months of October, November and December. In Preble County, there were a total of 75: 14 in October, 36 in November, and 25 in December.

AAA Driving School Supervisor, Pat Brown, reminds drivers across the Miami Valley area to resist the urge to swerve when confronted with deer in the roadway. “Because of the animal’s unpredictability and the time it usually takes a driver to identify something in the roadway, successfully “dodging” a collision is very difficult.” Although striking a deer during this season is common, drivers swerving, in an attempt to miss the deer, is another very common cause for crashes. This can be a deadly mistake because the driver may hit an oncoming motorist head-on. Brown recommends drivers stay alert, drive distraction free and practice the basic driving skill of scanning the roadway ahead. When traveling through areas with known deer activity, especially after dark, slow down to improve your chances of spotting deer on the move.

Last year there were more than 20,000 deer crashes in the Ohio that resulted in property damage. Deer crashes are not only costly – they can be deadly. “Deer and other animals are unpredictable and you never know when they might dash out in front of your vehicle. But there are actions you can take to help prevent an accident or reduce the damage from an animal collision,” AAA Public Affairs Manager, Cindy Antrican said. “First and foremost, always protect yourself by wearing a seat belt and removing all distractions behind the wheel.”

AAA has some tips to help prevent an accident or to reduce damage from an animal collision:

• Keep your eyes moving back and forth. Continuously sweep your eyes across the road in front of you for signs of animals and movement. Animals may also be alongside the road, so make sure to look to the right and left, as well. While the most likely accident is you hitting an animal, on occasion they might also hit you by running into the side of your car.

• Be especially attentive in early morning and evening hours. Many animals, especially deer, are most active from 5-8 a.m. and 5-8 p.m. – prime commuting times for many people.

• Use high beams when there’s no oncoming traffic. You can spot animals sooner. Sometimes the light reflecting off their eyes will reveal their location.

• Slow down, and watch for other deer to appear. Deer rarely travel alone, so if you see one, there are likely to be more nearby.

• Slow down around curves. It’s harder to spot animals down the road when going around curves.

• One long blast. A long blast on your horn may frighten animals away from your vehicle.

• Don’t swerve. Don’t swerve, instead, brake hard and stay in your lane. Swerving away from animals can confuse them so they don’t know which way to run. It can also put you in the path of oncoming vehicles or cause you to crash into something like a lamppost or a tree. If a crash is imminent take your foot off of the brake so the front of your vehicle can rise slightly. This helps lessen the chance of the animal rolling onto your hood and into your windshield.

• Always wear a seatbelt. The chances of getting injured when hitting an animal are much higher if you don’t have your seatbelt on. Also never drive drunk, distracted or drowsy.

• Consider purchasing comprehensive insurance, if you don’t already have it. Comprehensive insurance is the type of insurance that covers animal strikes.

What to do if you hit a deer

“During the fall we see the greatest number of deer-related crashes, especially November, because it’s the height of mating season” said ODNR (Ohio Department of Natural Resources) Spokesperson Trent Weaver. “The danger will also increase during November with the time change and as the days get shorter, drivers are more likely to be on the road at dawn and dusk when the animals are most active.”

If you are unable to avoid a collision and hit a deer, do not get out the car and attempt to touch the deer, it could harm you.

• Don’t go near a wounded animal. A wounded animal can be unpredictable and cause injury.

• Turn on your hazards to alert other motorists and call 911.

• If possible, remove your car from the roadway, but only if the deer has left. Otherwise, keep your lights on to keep other traffic from striking you or the deer.

Nearly 700 crashes in 2015 involved deer in the Miami Valley area

R-H Staff