It’s that time of year again! Our days are growing shorter and the fog has begun rolling in – it’s deer season! And we don’t mean for hunting!
Starting within the next couple of weeks and ending at the close of November, auto repair shops here in the valley see an increase in cars coming in for repairs after hitting deer.
It is more than two times as likely that you will hit a deer during mating season, which is October through December. The peak months for deer-vehicle collisions are October and November.
Not only are there more deer roaming the countryside, but the fog we experience in these colder months certainly doesn’t help either! The fog decreases visibility on the road and hides deer both on and alongside the road from drivers.
Here in Oregon, 1 out of every 254 drivers will hit a deer during the year.
Every year across the USA, there are 1.2 million deer-vehicle collisions! Altogether, they cost about $4 billion which amounts to about $3,414 per car!
Drivers and passengers can be injured or killed during these collisions.
Keep your family safe this deer season with these tips:
- Don’t veer for deer! Instead, if you cannot avoid hitting a deer, hold the wheel securely with both hands, stay in your own lane, and brake firmly until you come to a controlled stop. Move your car out of traffic with your hazards on after the collision.
- Drivers who swerve are more likely to lose control of their vehicle and end up off the road. These collisions end up being more severe.
- Understand their habits:
- 6PM-9PM is their favorite time to be out and about but you can see them anytime. Deer-vehicle collisions are most likely to happen between sunset and midnight and again at sunrise.
- They are more likely to be in forested areas and on roads that divide agricultural land and forestland.
- Deer fences, whistles, and reflectors have not be shown to reduce deer-vehicle crashes so don’t rely on them to keep deer out of the road or your family safe.
- Buckle up! Make sure that you and all of your passengers are buckled up in the right way! Seat belts are meant to be used in a certain way – don’t put them behind your back or any other variations!
- Drive the speed limit in ideal conditions – and reduce your speed in less than ideal conditions, such as fog and/or rain. Slow down in areas where deer are more likely to be and when you see one. Deer tend to travel together so if you see one, there are probably more around that you cannot see that might try to enter the road.
- Motorcyclists need to take extra care because they do not have the protection provided by a car’s frame:
- Wear your full protective gear! High visibility and full face helmets are best.
- Do not ride during night and other low-light time periods if you can help it.
- Use both brakes.
- Keep your bike up right – keep your eyes and head up.
- Stagger your formation when riding in groups. This way if one rider hits a deer, it is less likely other riders will be involved in the crash.
- If there is room to swerve without leaving the roadway and you either have to hit the deer or swerve, use maximum braking and then try to swerve in the opposite direction the deer is moving in just before impact.
- Use your high beam when you are able – just make sure to turn them off for oncoming traffic! High beams light up the eyes of deer better than regular old headlights! BUT! Be aware that headlights have eyes meant for low-light so your headlights temporarily blind them – which partly explains some of their bizarre behavior.
- Keep an eye out! You and your passengers should be aware of your surroundings and slow down for anything that looks suspicious. Look for animals’ reflective eyes and silhouettes – and deer crossing signs.
- Expect the unexpected! Deer do weird things. They stop in the middle of the road even after they see you coming. They get out of the road only to get back into the road. They will even walk towards your oncoming vehicle.
- If you see a deer in the road, honk your horn but do not rely on your horn to prevent a crash. If it stays in the road, do not try to go around it.
- If you must hit a deer, stop after the crash with your car out of traffic with your hazards on. Keep your distance and wait to see if the deer is able to recover and walk away. If the deer is unable to walk away, especially if it is in the lane of travel, call for law enforcement.
Just remember, don’t veer for deer!