WILKES-BARRE — Watch out for that deer in your headlights!
Although recent high temperatures have masked its arrival, fall is officially here and AAA Mid-Atlantic is warning drivers to be more cautious on the roads.
Deer-mating season — and the corresponding spike in deer activity — is right around the corner. Not surprisingly, October, November and December are the worst months of the year 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.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), there were 186 fatalities from collisions with animals in 2015.
“Animal-vehicle collisions start to increase in October and peak in mid-November,” said Jana L. Tidwell, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “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 peak times of deer activity.”
Some facts on animal-related crashes:
• PennDOT reports that in 2016, there were 4,223 crashes involving deer and other animals, with 13 fatalities.
• IIHS data for 2015 shows Pennsylvania is one of the top states for fatalities resulting from a collision with an animal. The state is tied for third place with Illinois, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Oklahoma.
In the event of a collision with an animal, State Police have this advice:
• 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.
“It is always best to call the police in the event of a collision,” adds Trooper Timothy Greene.
You should also contact your insurance agent or company representative as quickly as possible to report any damage to your car. Animal collisions are covered under the comprehensive portion of auto policies.
AAA Mid-Atlantic has some other tips to help prevent an accident or to reduce damage from an animal collision:
• Continuously sweep your eyes across the road in front of you for signs of animals and movement.
• 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.
• A long blast on your horn may frighten animals away from your vehicle.
• Use brakes if an impact is imminent. Don’t swerve. Instead, stay in your lane. 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.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.