Fall is officially here and AAA Mid-Atlantic is warning drivers to be more alert for deer on the roads.
Delaware Public Media’s Kelli Steele tells us with the start of deer mating season this month (October), the risk of hitting a deer goes up.
AAA Mid-Atlantic says October, November and December are the worst months of the year for motor vehicle collisions with animals.
And AAA spokesman Kent Grant says a collision with a deer or other animals can put a serious dent in your vehicle, if not destroy it completely. It could also result in serious injuries or fatalities, "Over the past couple of year, we've seen anywhere from 1,600 to 1,800 crashes involving deer in Delaware. And we're advising motorists just at this time of year especially, to be particularly cognizant of the fact that the deer are out. They seem to be operating on the same sort of activity schedule as most commuters...5 to 8 in the morning and 5 to 8 in the evening."
State Police say deer typically cross between areas of cover, such as woods or where roads divide agricultural fields from wooded area.
According to Delaware State Police, there were 1,668 deer crashes investigated in Delaware in 2016, compared to 1,791 in 2015 – 524 in New Castle County, 391 in Kent County and 876 in Sussex County.
Grant says if you hit a deer, stop at the scene, get your car off the road if possible and call police. You should also contact your insurance agent or company representative as quickly as possible to report any damage to your car.
AAA Mid-Atlantic has some tips to help prevent an accident or to reduce damage from an animal collision:
- 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 moving back and forth. Continuously sweep your eyes across the road in front of you for signs of animals and movement. Animals may also be alongside the road, so make sure to look to the right and left, as well. While the most likely accident is you hitting an animal, on occasion they might also hit you by running into the side of your car.
- Be especially attentive in early morning and evening hours. Many animals, especially deer, are most active from 5-8 a.m. and 5-8 p.m. – prime commuting times for many people.
- 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, and watch for other deer to appear. Deer rarely travel alone, so if you see one, there are likely to be more nearby.
- Slow down around curves. It’s harder to spot animals down the road when going around curves.
- One long blast. A long blast on your horn may frighten animals away from your vehicle.
- Use brakes if an impact is imminent. Don’t swerve. Instead, stay in your lane. 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 like a lamppost or a tree.
- Always wear a seatbelt. The chances of getting injured when hitting an animal are much higher if you don’t have your seatbelt on. Also never drive drunk, distracted or drowsy.
- Consider purchasing comprehensive insurance, if you don’t already have it. Comprehensive insurance is the type of insurance that covers animal strikes.