Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

October 2, 2013

Watch out!

Collisions with deer more likely during fall

West Virginia is No. 1 — although its drivers certainly are not proud of that fact. Pennsylvania is No. 5 and Maryland is No. 18.

We are speaking of the likelihood of a motor vehicle-deer collision. Although these accidents can occur at any time in the year, fall is an especially risky time because deer are on the move. Deer hunters in search of prey stir the animals, and the fall also is the deer mating season.

The auto insurer State Farm keeps track of the number of deer-vehicle collisions reported in the U.S. by the Federal Highway Administration. It says the odds that a West Virginia motorist will have a run-in with a deer are 1 in 41.

Besides staying alert, there are some steps drivers can take to reduce the risk of a collision, including:

• Use headlights smartly. At night, use high-beams when possible to illuminate the road's edges. If you see a deer far ahead, flick the brights on and off multiple times: Deer tend to fixate on headlights, so flashing them may cause the animal to scurry away.

• Watch out at mealtime. Pay particular attention at dusk and dawn, when these animals usually venture out to eat.

• Brake as necessary. If you think you have time to avoid hitting the animal, reduce speed, tap the brakes to warn drivers behind you, and sound your horn. If there's no vehicle close behind you, brake hard.

• Don't swerve. If a collision seems inevitable, don't veer off to avoid the animal. Your risk of injury may be greater if you do. Maintain control of the vehicle. Report the accident to the police and your insurance company.

•Always obey speed limits and wear seat belts.

The firearms season for hunting deer will begin in a matter of weeks. It’s time to ramp up your awareness that it is quite possible a deer will dart in front of your vehicle.

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