Fall: The Most Dangerous Season for Deer-Vehicle Collisions
It’s that time of year again. Pumpkin spice is everywhere and the foliage is changing colors. The wildlife in Colorado are gearing up for change too. Deer migration and mating season generally runs from October through December, and causes a dramatic increase in the movement of the deer population. As a result, more deer-vehicle collisions occur during this period of time than at any other time of year. Drivers need to be especially vigilant during the fall season.
The increase in urban sprawl throughout Colorado and tracts of land being cleared for roadways have displaced deer from their natural habitat, leading to a rise in deer-vehicle collisions, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
An estimated 1.23 million deer-vehicle collisions occurred in the U.S. between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012, costing more than $4 billion in vehicle damage, according to State Farm. Colorado averages 3,605 reported wildlife-vehicle collisions annually, the majority of which involve deer and elk. In 2013, there were 3,437 such collisions. Collisions with wildlife ranks third behind speeding and inattentive driving as the leading cause of crashes in Colorado.
To make the fall season a little more safe for everybody, including our wildlife friends, we can all consider the following when traveling on the roads:
- Remember that deer usually travel in herds—if you see one, there’s a good chance there are more. Keep an eye out for posted deer crossing signs. These are placed in active deer crossing areas. A team of scientists from the University of Alberta found that simply placing warning signs in hotspots where deer are known to cross roads can reduce collisions by 34 percent.
- Be especially alert at dawn and dusk when wildlife is most active.
- Use your high-beam headlights as much as possible at night to illuminate the areas from which deer will enter roadways. Look for unsuspecting eyes that may light up in the dark ahead of you.
- If a deer collision seems inevitable, brake, don’t swerve. Trying to swerve out of the way could cause you to lose control of your vehicle or put you in the path of an oncoming vehicle.
- Don’t rely on car-mounted deer whistles. They are not always effective.
- Keep your speed low in known wildlife areas.
- Scan the road ahead for movement along roadsides.
- Remember that a deer’s movements can be unpredictable, especially when it is frightened.
If you are involved in a deer-vehicle collision, the following are five steps you should take immediately:
- Move your vehicle to a safe place. If possible, pull over to the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights. If you must leave your vehicle, stay off the road and out of the way of any oncoming vehicles.
- Call the police. Alert authorities if the deer is blocking traffic and poses a threat for other drivers. If the collision results in injury or property damage, you may need to fill out an official police report.
- Document the incident. If it’s safe to do so, take photographs of the roadway, your surroundings, damage to your vehicle, and any injuries you or your passengers sustained. If witnesses stop, take down their account of what occurred, and ask for their contact information.
- If the deer is still around, stay away from it. A frightened, wounded deer may still have the strength to cause harm to you or others.
- Don’t assume your vehicle is safe to drive after the accident. Double-check that your car is still drivable. Check for leaking fluids, loose parts, tire damage, broken lights, a hood that won’t latch, and other safety hazards. If your vehicle seems unsafe in any way, call for a tow.
Bachus & Schanker, LLC specializes in personal injury which includes injuries from car accidents. If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident, contacting their team of professionals might just be the best sixth step you can take after an accident.
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