THG Tip Tuesday – Deer Season
Much like the running of the bulls in Spain is a summer event, the running of the deer is another sign that fall is here in Missouri. With the arrival of breeding season, you will see much more activity near highways and roadways.
Unfortunately, white-tailed deer, in breeding season, don’t pay attention to traffic. Bucks are chasing the does, and does are running from the bucks. This increase in potential deer vs. auto collisions lasts from October to January, when mating season is at it’s peak.
Most information available indicates that your highest chance of hitting a deer is from sunset to midnight and shortly before and after sunrise, although several different studies on daily deer movement show that during the fall, deer are most active at night around dawn and dusk, and from 12:00 – 2:00 AM. This means they are not moving much between 10:00 and 12:00 PM, and between 2:00 and 4:00 AM. Your best bet is just to be vigilant and keep your eyes open, especially where long open areas run adjacent to roadways.
Deer, which can weigh between 100 and 400 pounds, can cause significant damage to your car. Here are some tips for what to do if you encounter a deer in the roadway.
- Use your bright headlights if possible when driving in the morning and evening, especially around dawn and dusk. A deer’s eyes will reflect in your car’s headlights, making them easier to spot.
- Look for the road signs. The yellow hazard signs with an image of a deer are placed along high-traffic routes for the animals. If you see one deer by the side of the road, chances are good others in the gang will be around, so slow down.
- Avoid distractions, such as devices or eating, so you can watch for animals. This is important at any time but especially necessary because your vision is at its most compromised when deer are most active.
- Stay near the center if you’re on a four-lane or wider road with little traffic. This gives a deer plenty of space and can give you more time to react if one darts into the road.
- Honk if you see a deer in the road. One long blast of your car horn can scare a deer out of your way and might be your final chance to try to avoid a collision.
- Don’t swerve to avoid a deer. You’ll likely end up hitting a guardrail or tree instead and cause more injuries. Hard as it may be, it’s best to strike the deer.
- Stay in your lane and brake firmly if you have to hit a deer. IMPORTANT NOTE: Just before you hit the deer, take your foot off the brake. This will cause the nose of your vehicle to come back up, reducing the chance of the deer smashing into your windshield. The last thing you want is to make a ramp for the deer to collide with you!
This is a dangerous time for drivers and deer. Keep alert during peak times and follow these tips and, hopefully, you can get through it without incident. If you do happen to collide with a deer, pull off to the side of the road and call for assistance. Make sure to keep yourself safe until help arrives, using headlights and hazzards.