Editorial: Exercise care driving during hunting season

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 5, 2004

Deer hunting season officially begins this weekend. There’s nothing like getting a deer &045; if you’re hunting for one, that is.

But if you’re not, and you’re simply driving in your vehicle, a deer is the last thing you want.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there are more than 1.5 million crashes in the United States involving deer, costing an estimated $1.1 billion in vehicle damage.

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During deer season, there can be dramatic movements in the deer population with a significant number of deer darting onto highways.

Over this time period, more deer-vehicle collisions occur than any other time of year, so drivers need to be especially cautious.

There are a some defensive driving tips you can try to avoid hitting a deer:

– Be attentive from sunset to midnight and hours shortly before and after sunrise.

These are the highest risk periods for deer-vehicle collisions to occur. Reduce your speed.

– Drive with caution when moving through deer-crossing zones, in areas known to have a large deer population and in areas where roads divide agricultural fields from wooded areas. Deer seldom run alone.

If you see one deer, others are usually nearby.

– When driving at night, use high beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic.

The high-beams will better illuminate the eyes of deer on or near the roadway.

– Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path, but stay in your lane.

Many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or lose control of their cars.

– Do not rely on devices such as deer whistles, deer fences and reflectors to deter deer. These devices have not been proven to reduce deer-vehicle collisions.

– Always wear your seat belt.

Deer-vehicle collisions can result in serious injuries.

People tend to underestimate how much damage collisions with animals can cause.

– If you do hit a deer, call 911 if there are injuries or if your vehicle is disabled. Insurance companies normally require a police report if there is damage that needs to be repaired. Do not approach a deer that is injured, but still alive. It will be scared and want to flee, and you can be injured by hooves or antlers. Police officers and game wardens are permitted to destroy injured animals.

Hopefully, only hunters and not drivers, will be the ones bagging the deer this season.