Now that shotgun season is in full swing, it’s important to keep your eyes open for deer while you’re driving. They’ll be running across roads more than ever in the next several weeks. According to the DMV, someone hits a form of wildlife while driving every 39 minutes. Even more frightening is the fact that 200 motorists die every year from collisions with wildlife. That’s a pretty unnerving statistic, but there are several important tips to keep in mind to avoid hitting deer.
Time and place are important
Deer are most active and likely to be moving at dusk and dawn — so, right before daylight breaks and just before the sun sets.
There are also certain states that are more prone to collisions with deer. If you live in high-probability states like South Dakota, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Montana or West Virginia, be extra cautious.
Turn on your high beams
When you’re on a back road where there is no other vehicle traffic, turn your high beams on. Your high beams are designed to illuminate a range of 200 to 250 feet. Taking that range into account, the DMV suggests, “To allow for sufficient brake time, reduce your speed to 45 mph at night―or even down to 30 mph when roads are icy.”
Stay in the middle lane
When driving on a multilane road, it’s best to stay in the middle lane. This gives you more time to avoid hitting an animal if it decides to dart into the road. Even that one extra second could prevent an accident.
On a two lane road? Pay extra attention when going around corners that limit your visibility.
Do not swerve
In the instance that a deer does jump out in front of you, don’t swerve your car into oncoming traffic. The DMV says the best course of action is to “lock the brakes, jam the horn, and (if time allows) duck low behind the dashboard.”
Honk your horn
There is a chance that laying on your car horn could scare off a deer. This might not work, but it’s worth a last minute shot.
Salted roads attract wildlife
Keep in mind that the weather and road conditions may affect deer as well. If a road has just been salted, be aware that deer might be attracted to its deliciousness.
One means more
Deer travel around in groups. So, if you see one deer cross the road or standing off on the shoulder, it’s likely that there are more. If a deer crosses your path, slow way down because chances are another will soon follow.
And as always, take deer warning signs very seriously and always scan the roadside for reflective eyes. Drive safe, everyone!