Deer-vehicle collisions are a real problem, with around 1.6 million cases and 200 fatalities annually. The issue gets worse in the winter because visibility is lower and road conditions are more dangerous. And it doesn’t help that the salt used to melt snow attracts even more deer onto the roads.
Deer are known for being unpredictable, so it can be hard to avoid them. While we can’t do anything about their behavior, we can control ours. Mindfulness will go a long way in preventing deer-related accidents. Here are some safety driving tips to keep in mind.
Fasten Your Seatbelt and Wear Your Helmet
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found out through a study that most people who have died in a deer-related crash weren’t wearing their seatbelts. Similarly, 50% of motorcycle riders involved in fatal deer collisions weren’t wearing a helmet. Seat belts and helmets are your best protection against road accidents, so keep them on for the whole duration of your commute.
Be Alert and Slow Down
Deer, speeding, and inattentiveness are a sure recipe for disaster. Be aware of your surroundings and slow down, especially around dusk and dawn when deer are most active. Look out for deer warning signs and forested areas where animals are likely to wander.
If you use the same route daily, observe where the deer are usually grazing and remember these spots. Reduce your speed if you see a deer on the side of the road and let it pass. Deer tend to travel in groups, so see if more will follow.
Clear Your Line of Vision and Use Your High Beams
Clear your windows, windshield, and mirrors of snow before driving your vehicle. That way, you have a clear view of the road and can immediately react if you spot a deer. If you’re driving at night, turn on your high beams so you can see farther ahead of you. The bright light will also scare any lingering deer away. Slow down if you spot a deer’s eyeshine near the road.
Stay in the Center
The center lane is always the safest against deer collisions. There’s plenty of space between you and the side of the road where deer might be lurking. If one does run to the middle of the road, you’ll have enough time to slow down and avoid hitting it.
Brake Firmly Instead of Swerving
It might be your first instinct to swerve when a deer pops up in front of you, but it can be dangerous for you and other drivers. You might lose control of your vehicle and hit someone else. The sudden movement might also startle the deer and cause it to run in the wrong direction. Instead of swerving, slow down as fast and safely as possible. It’s less risky for you to collide with an animal than to crash into another car.
Don’t Rely on Deer Whistles
A deer whistle is a device you install on your vehicle. Supposedly, it alerts a deer when you’re passing through a road. But there has been no hard evidence that it’s effective. Use your judgment and stay alert instead of relying on deer whistles and other gimmicks.
The Bottom Line
Attentive and defensive drivers are less likely to get into deer-related accidents in the winter. It’s best to play it safe and assume that these hooved creatures are lurking around the corner and might pop up to surprise you. If you’re facing a personal injury case from a deer-vehicle collision and want it reviewed, contact Friedman Law Offices at +1 800-876-1093.