Deer present unique challenge to drivers

Deer present unique challenge to drivers
The nation's deer population is growing and each year car collisions with deer account for more than 150 human and nearly one and a half million deer fatalities. October through December is the highest season for the accidents, since it's a time for both wandering deer and holiday travelers.

Most collisions with a deer occur during this time of year when deer are mating and migrating.

"Drivers need to be particularly cautious with the season's shortened daylight and deer foraging near roadsides. It's a very dangerous combination," cautioned Ray Palermo, director of Public Relations for Response Insurance. "To compound it, more drivers are on the road at dawn and dusk, the very time of day when deer are most active."

An adult deer can weigh more than 200 pounds and a car striking one can not only result in the death of the deer, but also incur, on average, $2,000 in damage to the vehicle. Palermo suggested a few basic cautions for drivers:

? In many cases it is best not to swerve around the deer since the deer may move in the same direction. You may also inadvertently hit another vehicle, or go off onto a dangerous shoulder. Unless certain of those road factors, it is often best to simply brake and continue in your lane of traffic.

? Be particularly careful at dawn and dusk and when driving either over a hill or around a curve, where visibility is limited. Use your high beams to give you a greater area of visibility and allows you to see the deers' eyes sooner.

? Scan a wide swath of the roadside. Slow down when approaching a deer standing near the side of a road and be prepared. If startled, the deer can bolt onto the roadway and into your path. If necessary, honk your horn and flash your lights to try to scare it away.

? Be alert for more deer than you may see at that moment. Where there's one deer, there are often more nearby.

? Deer whistles or ultrasonic deer avoidance systems attached to vehicles have never been proven to work by independent studies and may give drivers a false sense of security.

? Take deer crossing signs seriously, particularly those installed specifically for this time of year. Be particularly cautious in wooded and agricultural areas where there is little distance between the road and the woods.

A free brochure, Car + Deer = Damage, is available by calling 1-800-610-5928 or by visiting their Web site:

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