By Adrian D. GalindoNovember 21, 2018
Fort Huachuca, Arizona - During deer season, which generally runs from October through January, there is a dramatic increase in the movement of the deer population. Many of these deer find their way onto highways and into suburban neighborhoods. As a result, more deer-vehicle collisions occur in this period than at any other time of year.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety from 1975 to the mid-2000s there was a general upward trend in deaths from collisions with animals. However, this trend has leveled off in the past few years. Deaths from collisions with animals increased from 89 in 1975 to 223 in 2007 and then declined to 189 in 2016. In 2016, deaths in collisions with animals occurred most often during July-September.
One out of 167 drivers will have a claim from hitting a deer, elk, moose or caribou in 2018, an improvement from the 2017 odds of one in 162. Those odds more than double during October, November and December, and there is a significant increased risk around dawn and dusk. Estimates indicate that animal collisions dropped slightly to 1.33 million between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018, compared with 1.34 million in 2017.
At Fort Huachuca alone there were 47 traffic accidents between Jan. 1, 2017 and Nov.1, 2018 involving deer strikes. Drivers are encouraged to pay particular attention during this time period as deer can be an unexpected and unfortunate surprise. To avoid hitting a deer, use these defensive driving tips.
-Be especially attentive during peak deer hours. From sunset to midnight and during the hours shortly before and after sunrise are the highest risk times for deer-vehicle collisions
-Use extra caution when driving through deer-crossing zones. Also be especially careful in places known to have a large deer population and in areas where roads divide agricultural fields from forestland.
-Know that deer seldom run alone. If you see one deer, others may be nearby.
-Use high beam headlights if driving at night, when there is no oncoming traffic. The higher light will better illuminate the eyes of deer on or near the roadway.
-Slow down and blow your horn with one long blast to frighten the deer away.
-Brake firmly but stay in your lane when you notice a deer in or near your path. Many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or lose control of their cars.
-Always wear your seat belt. Most people injured in car-deer crashes were not wearing their seat belt.
-Do not rely on deer-deterring devices. Deer whistles, deer fences and reflectors have not been proven to reduce deer-vehicle collisions.
-If your vehicle strikes a deer, do not touch the animal. A frightened and wounded deer can hurt you or further injure itself. The best procedure is to get your car off the road, if possible, and call the police.
-In the event a deer damages your car contact your insurance agent or company representative to report the incident.