According to Car-Accidents.com, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that there are approximately 1.5 million car crashes each year as a result of deer. Deer are especially active during fall, which coincides with their mating season. Although we cannot stop deer from entering roadways at inopportune times, there are steps we can take to diminish the chance of having an accident if a deer crosses our path while driving.
1. Be vigilant while driving in wooded areas. Although deer can be found almost anywhere, city or suburb, it is important to be extra cautious when driving through heavily wooded areas. Look for the reflection of their eyes in your headlights on the side of the road.
2. Use high beams whenever possible. Using high beams can help better illuminate deer and also make it easier to see the reflection in their eyes as discussed in tip #1. Be cautious with high beams though. If a deer does cross your path it may freeze in your headlights. Be sure to turn them off quickly and beep your horn to help scare the deer away.
3. Watch for deer crossing signs. When you see a deer crossing sign be sure to pay even more attention to your surroundings. These signs are placed at well-known deer crossing paths and increase the likelihood of coming across a deer in a posted area.
4. Drive in the center lane whenever possible. If you are travelling down a multi-lane road, be sure to stay in the center lane whenever possible. This will give you just a little more reaction time if a deer does dart in front of your vehicle. If on a single lane road, then stay as close to the center line as is safely possible.
5. Do not swerve. If a deer does come out at you from the side of the road, be sure to hit the brakes and avoid swerving. Deer will typically move and if you swerve you may put yourself back into the path of the deer. Also, sharp turns can increase the likelihood of losing control of the vehicle and causing an accident with another vehicle, tree, etc.
6. Watch for relatives. If you see one deer, rest assured there are more nearby. If a deer does jump in front of you, be aware of more deer possibly crossing your path as well. Deer do not travel alone. This is another reason swerving is a bad idea. Swerving to avoid one deer may put you in the path of another.
Deer are one of the most dangerous animals to man due to their contributions to auto accidents. Taking simple precautions can be the difference between having an accident with a deer and almost having an accident with a deer. There are products out there such as deer whistles, which when attached to your car emit a high-pitched whistle that notify deer of your oncoming vehicle. There are conflicting reports as to their effectiveness, so be sure to take all necessary precautions when driving, especially at dawn or dusk when deer traffic is highest.
Are there any other precautions you can add to my list? Let me know how you’ve avoided a close call with a deer.