How to save a buck…or a doe
As drivers we always have to be on the lookout for other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. In other words; all other road users. Sometimes we forget about the other road users – wildlife. Thousands and thousands of deer are struck and killed each year on our roads and many people are also killed or seriously injured after their vehicle collides with a deer. There are ways to avoid striking deer, so let’s get right to it.
During the months of October through January is the time of year deer are most active. This is because it’s their mating season. Rarely will you find deer moving alone. They often stay in packs so if you spot one deer, keep looking because you’ll most likely find more following closely behind. Keep an eye out for yellow warning signs indicating deer crossings. These signs are generally placed in areas deer have been known to populate. Even with these signs, deer could be anywhere; before or after that sign. Just because the sign is there, it doesn’t mean deer will line up at the sign and cross the road when it’s clear.
Since deer will often be roaming at dawn and dusk, you’ll need to change your driving habits during those times. Since speed limits are designed to be used under ideal conditions, we must remember that driving at night is not ideal. You’ll need to reduce speed each time your visibility is reduced. This reduced speed will give you more response time if you spot deer, or any other problem ahead of you.
To help spot deer sooner, keep moving your eyes from side to side while you drive. Since most deer will be in rural areas, this would include moving your eyes from treeline to treeline, not just the road surface. The sooner you can spot a deer, the sooner you can do something to avoid it. As soon as you spot a deer, never assume it will be afraid of your vehicle and won’t come in front of you. Immediately check your mirror and brake in a straight line. A swerve will often mean a collision against a tree, the deer itself or another vehicle. There is some belief that honking your horn will scare the deer to run away, but that’s questionable.
While it`s dark outside, use your high beam headlights whenever possible. The spray of your high beams will widen much more than regular low beam headlights. This wider spray will help you spot the deer sooner. Plus, their eyes will often glow when your headlights reach them.
The best thing to do when it comes to deer is be a proactive driver in these situations. Don’t wait for the deer to come out in your path. Find the deer early and respond early. You’re in charge; not the deer. If you do hit a deer, even slightly, never touch the deer. It may injure you or itself as it tries to get away. Safely park your vehicle at the side of the road and call police. So now you know what to do. And just think… this information most likely saved you at least a buck.