DAYTON — Fall is officially here and AAA is warning drivers to be more cautious on the roads. Deer mating season is beginning and October through December are the most dangerous months in Ohio for motor vehicle collisions with animals. A collision with a deer or other animal can put a serious dent in your vehicle, if not destroy it completely, and could result in serious injuries or fatalities.
“Animal-vehicle collisions start to increase in October and peak in mid-November,” said AAA Public Affairs Manager Cindy Antrican. “As the deer population grows and urbanization spreads into formerly rural areas, 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.”
According to 2017 data from the Ohio Department of Public Safety, there were 18,426 deer collision crashes reported and 47 percent of the crashes occurred during the months of October, November and December. Although striking a deer during this season is common, drivers swerving — in an attempt to miss the deer — is another very common cause for crashes. This can be a fatal mistake because the driver may hit an oncoming motorist head-on.
“Deer and other animals are unpredictable and you never know when they might dash out in front of your vehicle. But there are actions you can take to help prevent a crash or reduce the damage from an animal collision,” noted Antrican. “First and foremost, always protect yourself by wearing a seat belt and removing all distractions behind the wheel.”
In the event of a collision with an animal, AAA recommends:
• Following the collision, call the police.
• Avoid making contact with the deer/animal. A frightened or wounded animal can hurt you or further injure itself.
• Put the vehicle’s hazard lights on; whether it’s light or dark outside.
• If possible, move the vehicle to a safe location, out of the roadway, and wait for help to arrive. Your safety and the safety of your passengers is most important.
• Contact your insurance agent or company representative as quickly as possible to report any damage to your car. Collision with a deer or other animals is covered under the comprehensive portion of your automobile policy.
• AAA has some tips to help prevent a crash or to reduce damage from an animal collision:
• Pay attention to road signs. Yellow, diamond-shaped signs with an image of a deer indicate areas with high levels of deer activity.
• Keep your eyes moving back and forth. Continuously sweep your eyes across the road in front of you for signs of animals and movement. Animals may also be alongside the road, so make sure to look to the right and left, as well. While the most likely crash is you hitting an animal, on occasion they might also hit you by running into the side of your car.
• Be especially attentive in early morning and evening hours. Many 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. You can 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 you 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 on your horn may frighten animals away from your vehicle.
• Resist the urge to swerve: Instead, stay in your lane with both hands firmly on the wheel. Swerving away from animals can confuse them so they don’t know which way to run. It can also put you in the path of oncoming vehicles or cause you to crash into something like a lamppost or a tree.
• If the crash is imminent, take your foot off the brake: during hard braking the front end of your vehicle is pulled downward which can cause the animal to travel up over the hood towards your 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. The chances of getting injured when hitting an animal are much higher if you don’t have your seatbelt on. Also never drive impaired, distracted or drowsy.
• Consider purchasing comprehensive insurance, if you don’t already have it. Comprehensive insurance is the type of insurance that covers animal strikes.