As we enter the fall season, motorists are warned to keep an eye out for deer, as the majority of vehicle-deer accidents occur in October, November and December. The combination of shorter days and the deer rut season make for a significant increase in accidents during the fall. In fact, half of all deer-related accidents happen in the fall, with 85% of those occurring between 5 and 7 p.m.
Deer are crepuscular, which means the peak of their activity is around sunrise and sunset and during overnight hours. However, during breeding (rut) season, deer become even more active and tend to move around at all hours of the day and night.
On average, a deer hit causes $3,000 in vehicle damage and can cause serious injuries or even death to drivers. The majority of serious driver injuries and fatalities involve motorcycles and wet road conditions. Studies have shown that deer detractors, such as whistles, roadside reflectors, and warning signs do not appear to reduce deer collisions.
The best method to prevent these types of accidents is driver education. It is important for drivers, especially those driving on rural roads in deer country, to follow these safety tips:
- Be extra vigilant during October, November and December and during dusk/dawn hours.
- Reduce your speed near water, farm fields, and wooded areas; be prepared to stop.
- Deer will often cross roads and double back; make sure deer have moved away from the road before proceeding.
- Deer often travel in family groups. If you see one deer, be aware that others may be close behind.
- Alert other motorists to the presence of deer by tapping your brakes.
- Don’t swerve into traffic or off the road if you see a deer; instead stay on the road and slow to a stop.