(WILDLIFE/ANIMAL SAFETY) Fall is a dangerous time for drivers and deer alike. Read these tips to help you avoid hitting a deer while driving this fall season. — Global Animal

Deer In The Headlights
Simply being a safe driver helps protect our beloved wildlife.

The Ottawa Citizen, Brian Turner

Autumn’s changing colours brings more than beauty to a drive through the rural countryside. It also brings the increased risk of deer/vehicle collisions, (not to mention moose and caribou and the large assortment of smaller forest denizens). Short of putting the daily driver into hibernation for the next few months, there is no sure-fire way to avoid a close encounter of the furry kind but there are a few simple steps you can take to improve your odds.

1. Pick your route:

If at all possible avoid roads where the trees and brush encroach up to the gravel shoulder. This lack of an open buffer zone can reduce your reaction time. While it may be difficult to adjust your commuting routes, at least be aware that those tree lined lanes on the outskirts of the city provide the highest risks.

2. Reduce your speed:

If there was ever a time to slow down, it’s during the fall months of October and November. A lower road speed increases your reaction time and may give you those precious few seconds to come to a stop and avoid a collision.

3. Avoid swerving:

More people are injured and killed from hitting solid objects when they veer to avoid an animal than those that don’t. Colliding with an animal on the roadway is usually a comprehensive insurance claim with most insurance companies, meaning a minimal deductible and no premium increases. By contrast, swerving and colliding with a tree can be considered an at-fault collision.

4. Count on unpredictability:

If you see a deer standing off to the side of the road, don’t assume it will stay there. These animals can be very unpredictable when faced with a foreign environment and the sounds and sights of cars in motion. Slow down and proceed with caution.

Photo Credit: Richard Marjan, Saskatoon StarPhoenix
Photo Credit: Richard Marjan, Saskatoon StarPhoenix

5. Like cars, deer travel in numbers:

If you spot one deer, there are bound to be several others in the vicinity. Just because one successfully made it across the road in front of you is no reason to let down your guard.

6. Exercise your eyes:

Continually scan down both sides of the road ahead as you drive and keep an eye out for unusual movement of brush, low tree branches, and grasses. Deer are well camouflaged so it is often difficult to spot them on first glance.

7. Give up on gimmicks:

There is no evidence to prove deer whistle attachments have any effect on collisions and their downside is a false sense of driver security. Leave them on the store shelves.

8. Stay clear:

Avoid approaching a downed or injured deer. They can easily injure bystanders with sharp hooves and antlers.

9. Improve your vehicle’s lighting:

If you live in a rural or semi-rural area, add driving lights. Many deer collisions happen at dawn or dusk; supplementary lighting can only help. Always use your highbeams when no other cars are around (unless in fog).

10. If you do hit a deer:

Try to pull into a safe spot off the road and call 911.

More Ottawa Citizen: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/cars/avoid+hitting+deer+this+fall/3678183/story.html#ixzz13ngE8iCl