AAA: Watch out for increased deer-car crashes

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DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – AAA is warning Miami Valley residents of the possibility of increased deer strikes by vehicles as this is the time of year where those incidences spike.

October, November, and December are the months with the most vehicle collisions with animals. Collisions with a deer or other animals can cause extensive damage to a car, as well as injuries and fatalities.

“Animal-vehicle collisions start to increase in October and peak in mid-November,” Kara Hitchens, AAA spokesperson, said. “For that reason, motorists need to be even more cautious and alert behind the wheel, especially at dawn and dusk, which can be the times for high levels of deer activity.”

A total of 18,302 deer collisions were reported in Ohio in 2018, according to data from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT.) While striking a deer can be dangerous, swerving to avoid a deer can be just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, as there’s a possibility of hitting another vehicle.

“Deer and other animals can be unpredictable and might dash out in front of your vehicle,” Hitchens said. “But there are actions you can take to help prevent a crash or reduce the damage from an animal collision. First and foremost, drivers and passengers should always wear a seat belt and take steps to avoid distractions behind the wheel.”

AAA offered a number of tips to help drivers avoid a crash or possibly reduce damage caused by vehicle/animal collisions:

  • Pay attention to road signs. Yellow, diamond-shaped signs with an image of a deer indicate areas with high levels of deer activity.
  • Continually scan roadways. Drivers should continuously sweep their eyes across the road in front of the vehicle looking for signs of animals and movement. Animals may also travel alongside the road, so make sure to look along both sides of the roadway, as well. While the most likely crash happens when drivers strike an animal, on occasion the animal may run into the vehicle.
  • Be especially attentive in early morning and evening hours. Many wild animals, especially deer, are most active from 5-8 a.m. and 5-8 p.m. – prime commuting times for many people.
  • Use high beams when there’s no oncoming traffic. To spot animals sooner. Sometimes the light reflecting off their eyes will reveal their location.
  • Slow down, and watch for other deer to appear. Deer rarely travel alone, so if drivers see one, there are likely to be more nearby.
  • Slow down around curves. It’s harder to spot animals when going around curves.
  • One long blast. A long blast of a horn may frighten animals away from the vehicle.
  • Resist the urge to swerve: Instead, drivers need to concentrate on keeping the vehicle in the marked lanes of travel with both hands firmly on the wheel. Swerving away from animals may place drivers in the path of oncoming vehicles or result in a crash with something along the roadway like a lamppost or a tree.
  • If the deer collision crash is imminent drivers should take their foot off the brake: during hard braking the front end of the vehicle is pulled downward which can cause the animal to travel up over the hood towards the windshield. Letting off the brake can protect drivers from windshield strikes because the animal is more likely to be pushed to one side of the vehicle or over the top of the vehicle.
  • Always wear a seatbelt. Also never drive impaired, distracted or drowsy.
  • Drivers should consider purchasing comprehensive insurance, if they don’t already have it. Comprehensive insurance is the type of insurance that covers animal strikes.
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