Deer season opens this Saturday; tips for avoiding an accident
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) reports that Minnesota averages about 35,000 deer-car collisions a year and three to 11 fatalities.
So, what can be done to stay safe when Minnesota's deer season gets under way on November 3?
DEER TRENDS AND STATISTICS
--Dawn and dusk are the times people are most likely to encounter deer along the roadside.
--Deer-breeding season runs from October through early January, and during this time, they are highly active and on the move. This is when deer-vehicle collisions are at their peak.
--Although deer may wander into neighborhoods, they are more frequently found on the outskirts of towns and in heavily wooded areas.
--As pack animals, deer almost never travel alone. If one deer is spotted, there are probably others nearby.
--If driving through an area known for high deer populations, slow down and observe the speed limit. The more conservative people are with their speed, the more time they will have to brake if an animal darts into their path.
--Always wear a seat belt. The most severe injuries in deer-vehicle collisions usually result from failure to use a seat belt.
--Watch for the shine of eyes alongside roads and immediately begin to slow down.
--Use the high beams whenever the road is free of oncoming traffic. This will increase visibility and give more time to react.
--Deer can become mesmerized by steady, bright lights, so if one is frozen on the road, slow down and flash the lights. NHTSA and other experts recommend one long blast of the horn to scare them out of the road as well.
--Pay close attention to caution signs indicating deer or other large animals. These signs are specifically placed in high-traffic areas, where deer sightings are frequent.
--If on a multi-lane road, drive in the center lane to give as much space to grazing deer as possible.
ENCOUNTERING A DEER
--Never swerve to avoid a deer in the road. Swerving can confuse the deer on where to run. Swerving also can cause a head-on collision with oncoming vehicles, take people off the roadway into a tree or a ditch and greatly increase the chances of serious injuries.
--Deer are unpredictable creatures, and one that is calmly standing by the side of the road may suddenly leap onto the roadway without warning. Slowing down when a deer is spotted is the best way to avoid a collision. However, if one does move into the path, maintain control and try to brake to give the deer time to get out of the way.
--Don't rely on hood whistles or other devices designed to scare off deer.
--If a collision with a deer or large animal does occur, call emergency services if injuries are involved or the local police if damage has been caused to property. Never touch an animal in the roadway.
Knowing what to do when encountering a large animal on or near the roadway can be a life saver. Keeping calm and driving smart improve the chances of avoiding a collision and staying safe.