It’s that time of year…
More and more deer are crossing our roadways, it’s getting dark earlier, and motorists need to be extra alert.
The Office of Highway Safety, Triple-A Mid-Atlantic and DNREC say the deer mating season lasts from October until December, and will start to peak around November 10th.
“Bucks are very single-minded in their pursuit of does during the rut, their mating season, which lasts from October to December and peaks from Nov. 10 to 20. If that pursuit takes a buck or doe across a roadway in front of your vehicle, that’s where they’re going to go, whether it’s Route 1 or a rural road,” DNREC Program Manager Joe Rogerson said. “Drivers should pay particular attention on roads bordered by woods or agricultural fields, since deer typically cross between areas of cover, but not always.”
Roads that are lined by woods or farmland are especially risky. Deer are most likely to be on or near the roadways during early mornings or at dusk, but can show up anytime.
As you drive, be sure to scan the roadsides, and use the high-beams where you can.
“Crashes involving deer are more frequent at dawn and dusk. Reduced visibility for drivers during these time periods make it more difficult to see deer approaching or crossing roadways,” Delaware Office of Highway Safety Director Kimberly Chesser said. “The Office of Highway Safety urges drivers to remain focused, keeping their eyes on the road at all times, and reduce their speed when visibility is an issue.”
Additional safety tips were provided below by DNREC and OHS:
· Always wear your seatbelt to reduce your risk of injury in a collision.
· Reduce speed at night, on curves and in bad weather.
· Switch to high beams when there is no oncoming traffic to better reflect the eyes of deer on or near the roadway and scan the sides of the road as well as what’s directly ahead.
· Watch for “Deer Crossing” signs marking commonly-traveled areas on the road ahead. Slow down immediately and proceed with caution until past the crossing point.
· Deer usually travel in groups, so if you see one deer, there are likely to be others.
· Slow down and blow your horn with one long blast to frighten deer away. Do not rely on devices such as deer whistles, deer fences and reflectors to deter deer, as these devices have not been proven to reduce deer-vehicle collisions.
· Do not swerve to miss a deer — brake and stay in your lane. Losing control of your vehicle, crossing into another lane, hitting an oncoming vehicle, or leaving the roadway and hitting another obstacle such as a tree or pole will likely be much more serious than hitting a deer.
· If you hit a deer, stop at the scene, get your car off the road if possible, turn on your vehicle hazard lights and call 911.
· Do not touch the animal or get too close; an injured deer may bite or kick, causing serious injury.