There was much discussion at the office yesterday about the deer incident. There were quite a few who had experienced their own “close encounters” with Bambi’s relatives. Many wondered how – or if – you can avoid something like that.
The majority of deer-vehicle accidents occur in the month of November. Many of you will be hitting the road next week for Thanksgiving and I want to share some tips that I found that may help you should you find yourself in the middle of a staring contest with one of these really, REALLY cute, but dangerous animals.
I knew we had escaped a serious accident, but didn’t realize just how blessed we were until I began to research it. Just last year, seven people in Indiana died when their minivan hit a deer and then either stopped or slowed. The minivan was then rear-ended by a tractor-trailer resulting in the death of seven of the 10 people in the van.
There are 1 million deer-vehicle accidents in the United States each year resulting in 200 deaths and 10,000 personal injuries. Mid-October thru December is mating season for deer. As my co-worker, the hunter, says, “the deer get a little crazy and run all over the place.” Basically, their hormones are going wild and they can’t think straight.
Here are some tips from Geico, State Farm, AAA Travel Club, and the University of North Carolina that I hope will help keep you and your family safe this Fall as you travel the roads:
- Wear your seatbelt!! The family of seven who died in Indiana were not wearing seatbelts. Many injuries and deaths could be prevented with that one simple act.
- Pay attention to the deer crossing signs and slow down when you see them – they’re not there for decoration. :) The same is true for areas where you’ve seen deer before – slow down.
- Deer are most active near roadsides during dawn and dusk hours, so be especially alert then.
- Deer rarely travel alone. If you see one, assume there are others.
- Watch for the shine of their white eyes on the roadside – be alert.
- Use your high beams, when possible, because it will allow you to see further off the side of the road.
- If you are on a multi-lane highway, driving in the center lane places more distance between you and the shoulder of the road where deer may be grazing or standing.
Once you encounter a deer in the road, these tips may help minimize damage or injury:
- Contrary to instinct, do not swerve. Swerving may force you into the path of another vehicle resulting in an even greater accident – and is no guarantee you will avoid the deer.
- When you spot a deer in your path, slow down. Apply steady, solid pressure to your brakes, but do not brake so hard that you lose control of the vehicle. Also, slamming on the brakes may cause the car behind you to run into you.
- If it looks as if you are going to hit the deer and you can remember to, release brake pressure or even accelerate slightly just before impact. This will raise the front end of your car, hopefully preventing the deer from coming in your windshield.
Once you’ve hit a deer, pull your car off the road as soon as you can safely do so. Call 911 for assistance. If the deer is still in the road, do not approach it as it may be injured and in shock and could attack, kick, or injure you. Once the officer arrives he/she will know how to handle the deer.
And that, my friends, is your public safety announcement for the month of November. :) Please be sure to share this information with any teenagers in your home – their inexperience behind the wheel tends to make for a bad combination when encountering deer on the highway. Here’s to safe travel and deer-free roads for all of us!