With Sunday’s time change and deer on the move, drivers are reminded to be especially vigilant on the roads in animal-prone areas.
November and December are the most common months of the year for motor vehicle collisions with animals due to deer mating season. Inconvenience, cost and possible injury can add up to major headaches for motorists, according to a press release from the American Automobile Association East Central Division.
“More collisions between vehicles and deer occur in November than any other month,” says Mark Sisson, vice president of Insurance, AAA East Central. “One of our top claims in the winter is for vehicles that have been totaled from hitting animals, and the costs can be staggering.”
According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, there are more than 1.5 million deer-vehicle collisions each year, resulting in 150 human deaths and tens of thousands of injuries. In addition to possibly causing injury, deer collisions can lead to costly damage to vehicles. AAA Insurance reports that it’s average deer-related claim in the region is about $3,500.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol investigated 303 deer-related crashes in 2018.
“The deer are everywhere; we even get them on [Route] 20 near the city,” said Sgt. Dan Dubelko of the OHP, Ashtabula Post.
He reminds drivers to “make sure you are alert at all times.”
To help prevent a crash, AAA suggests motorists:
• Pay attention to road signs. Yellow, diamond-shaped signs with an image of a deer indicate areas with high levels of deer activity.
• Keep your eyes on the road.
• Be especially attentive in early morning and evening hours. Many animals, especially deer, are most active from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., according to OHP deer-related crashes in 2018. Last year, the majority of deer versus vehicle crashes occurred on Thursdays and Fridays, according to OHP statistics.
• Use high beams when there’s no oncoming traffic. You can spot animals sooner. Sometimes the light reflecting off their eyes will reveal their location.
• Slow down! Deer rarely travel alone, so if you see one, there are likely to be another behind it.
• Resist the urge to swerve. Instead, stay in your lane with both hands firmly on the wheel. Swerving away from animals can confuse them so they don’t know which way to run. It can also put you in the path of oncoming vehicles or cause you to crash into something.
If the crash is imminent take your foot off the brake. During hard braking, the front end of your vehicle is pulled downward which can cause the animal to travel up over the hood toward your windshield. Letting off the brake can protect drivers from windshield strikes because the animal is more likely to be pushed to one side of the vehicle or over the top of the vehicle.