There are many that would pick Fall as their favorite time of the year. The temperatures are cooling, late night fires keep us and our guests warm, the leaves turn their beautiful hues of reds, oranges and yellows, and of course we have holidays such as Halloween and Thanksgiving. Yet there is one facet of Fall that will evoke fear, and sometimes rage, into most autumn-lovers. The 2 beady piercing eyes lit-up in the beam of our headlights, that are unmistakably a deer waiting to pounce from the side of the road directly into our path of travel.
Read on for 10 tips on how to navigate the roads safely, ready for the 4-legged missiles that will inevitably try to ruin your day.
Pennsylvania is one of the states where you are most likely to have a collision with a deer, or similar animal. Statistically the odds are 1 in 63 that you will have a collision, good for 3rd among all states. The 141,000 Pennsylvania deer-crash claims reported from July 1, 2017, through June 2018 represented nearly 10 percent of all deer claims in the United States, according to data. That makes PA first in total crashes involving deer. Being prepared can help prevent you from adding to these statistics.
1. Watch for the rest of the gang!
Deer are pack animals, and rarely travel alone. If a deer crosses in front of you, chances are there are more nearby. Slow down and keep an eye out for more deer darting across the road.
2. Pay extra attention at dawn and dusk
Deer are most active at dusk and dawn: periods when your vision is most compromised, as well as when most commuters are on the road. Drivers typically are also most distracted at these times, thinking about what they need to do at work, or what they need to do at home. To add to their terrible timing, deer are on the move during mating season (between October and January) when you’re more likely to travel after the sun sets. Slow down and stay alert, especially after dark.
3. Use your headlights (high beams)
First, look for the road signs. The yellow diamonds with the deer on it are placed in high-traffic areas for deer. You may also spot a deer because their eyes will brightly reflect a car’s headlights, making them easier to spot.
4. SLOW DOWN
If you see a deer on the side of the road, slow down. Deer are easily spooked and have a habit of bolting into traffic and changing directions quickly. By decreasing your speed, you have more time to react if a deer runs out in front of you.
5. Brake, Don't Swerve
If you see a deer, brake firmly and calmly, and stay in your lane. Swerving could make you lose control of your vehicle and turn a bad situation much worse. Not to mention, deer are unpredictable, and you could swerve directly into their changed path.
6. Stay Center
On a multi-lane road, the center lane is your safest bet for avoiding a deer collision, as long as your local traffic laws permit it. This gives deer plenty of space; and in case your vehicle does startle them, it gives you more time to react if one darts onto the road.
Some experts recommend that one long blast of the horn will scare deer out of the road. Do not rely on hood whistles or other devices designed to scare off deer, studies have shown them to be largely ineffective at minimizing accidents.
8. Check the Signs
Extra caution should be taken on roads with deer-crossing signs. There's a reason those signs are there, after all. The signs are put in places where cars have hit deer in the past, and drivers should expect to see an abundance of deer in those areas.
If you've already been in a collision with a deer, the last 2 tips are for you.
9. Stay Clear
If you should collide with a deer while driving, it's important to keep away from it. A scared or hurt deer is still able to hurt you with its sharp hooves if you get too close to it. The best thing to do after hitting a deer is to get your car and find a safe place if possible. Pulling over to the side of the road and turning on your hazard lights will allow other vehicles to avoid running into you or your car.
10. Call the Police
The next thing to do after hitting a deer is to call the police. It’s important to report the accident, and let the authorities know if the deer is blocking traffic. If there is more than $1,000 in property damage, you have to file an official report. You should also look to see if your vehicle is safe before you drive it again. That includes checking for any leaking fluids, broken lights or flat tires.
Many of these tips are applicable to safe driving throughout the year. Let's stay safe out there.
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