We are experiencing a big up swing with our fleet and deer strikes which is not uncommon but I wanted to share some tips on how to handle these. Our natural instinct can be, especially in a car, to take evasive action to avoid a collision with an animal. Keeping your eyes elevated and Aiming High will allow hopefully for some early warning.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that deer-vehicle collisions result in more than 150 fatalities annually and cause over $1 billion dollars in damage as well.
Our history shows that these incidents are most common in May, June and October through December. While we have had deer strike incidents in 33 states, the heaviest activity has always been in Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming. But don’t get complacent when driving in other states – they are everywhere!
When driving this fall, you should:
- Watch for the rest of the gang. Deer are pack animals, and rarely travel alone. If a deer crosses in front of you, chances are there are more nearby. Slow down and keep an eye out for more deer darting across the road.
- Timing is everything. Deer are most active at dusk and dawn: periods when your vision is most compromised. To add to their terrible timing, deer are on the move during mating season (between October and January) when you’re more likely to travel after the sun sets. Slow down and stay alert, especially after dark.
- Wear your seat belt.It may not prevent a collision, but if the inevitable happens a seat belt can reduce injuries. This is especially true if you lose control and collide with something bigger, and more stationary than a deer.
- Take a moment to reflect. First, look for the road signs. The yellow diamonds with the deer on it are placed in high-traffic areas for deer. You may also spot a deer because their eyes will brightly reflect a car’s headlights, making them easier to spot.
- Stay the course. If you see a deer, brake firmly and calmly, and stay in your lane. Swerving could make you lose control of your vehicle and turn a bad situation much worse. Not to mention, deer are unpredictable, and you could swerve directly into their changed path.
- Honk! Some experts recommend that one long blast of the horn will scare deer out of the road. Do not rely on hood whistles or other devices designed to scare off deer—studies have shown them to be largely ineffective at minimizing accidents.
About the author:
Rick Vincent is the Director of Safety at Melton Truck Lines, he has been with Melton for over 10 years.