Deer in the Headlights
Last Wednesday night, around 9:00 p.m., I was driving down Massard Road through Chaffee Crossing on my way home. As I was driving, three deer darted in front of my car. Like most people, I quickly slammed on my brakes and swerved to the left. Luckily, there was not another car coming from the other direction, or there may have been a serious collision.
During the months of November and December, car accidents involving deer are always at their highest because mating season for North American deer is from late October through early December. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are about one million car accidents with deer each year that kill 200 Americans, cause more than 10,000 personal injuries, and result in $1 billion in vehicle damages.
Once I got home, I started thinking; “Just what are you supposed to do when you see a deer in your headlights?” Here are some specific precautions to help prevent such accidents:
- If a deer does run in front of your vehicle, brake firmly but do not swerve. Swerving can cause a vehicle-vehicle collision or cause the vehicle to strike a pedestrian or potentially deadly fixed object, such as a tree or utility pole.
- Use caution when driving at dawn or dusk and scan roads and roadsides ahead.
- Reduce your speed at night and use high beams when possible.
- Be sure all vehicle occupants wear seat belts and children are properly restrained in child safety seats.
- Slow down when approaching deer that are standing near the roadside, as they may suddenly bolt into the road.
- Deer often travel in pairs or groups, so if deer are spotted crossing the road, slow down and be alert that others may follow.
- Be especially alert and use caution when traveling through frequent deer crossing areas,which are usually marked with highway signs.
- Do not rely on devices, such as deer whistles, extra lights or reflectors, to deter deer.Research has shown that your best defense is your own responsible behavior.
- Motorcyclists should be especially alert for deer as motorcycle-deer collisions have a higher fatality rate.
It is important for all drivers to remember the first precaution listed above. If you are able to avoid from swerving, you could potentially limit any other collisions from happening. At McCutchen & Sexton – The Law Firm we want drivers to always be a step ahead.