MnDOT Offers Tips To Avoid Deer-Vehicle Crashes
If you think you're seeing more deer on or near the roads lately, you're not mistaken. The Minnesota Department of Transportation says there's increased deer movement due to mating season and reduced daylight hours, and that means a greater risk for a deer-vehicle accident.
In fact, MnDOT says that November is the peak time of year for such accidents. Motorists are advised to watch for deer and drive cautiously.
Deer are more likely to be encountered in areas where habitat is close to the roadway, such as a bridge crossing over waterways, and during the early morning and evening hours when deer are most active.
Deer-vehicle accidents can be fatal. According to the Department of Public Safety, from 2013 to 2015, there were 6,149 reported deer-vehicle crashes. There were 15 fatalities and 944 injuries. Crashes were reported in every county in the state.
MnDOT offers these tips to help reduce your chances of hitting a deer:
- Be particularly alert in the fall and spring. More than half of the crashes happen in late October and November when deer are mating, and in May and June during the birthing season.
- Be vigilant at dusk and at dawn. A high percentage of crashes occur during the low-light or dark hours of the day when deer move between daytime bedding sites and evening feeding areas.
- Slow down and scan the sides of the road and ditches for animals when driving through forested lands or near river and stream banks. Especially drive with caution in marked deer-crossing zones and along roads surrounded by farmland or forests as these are areas known for large deer populations.
- Drive defensively and expect the unexpected. If you see a deer near the road, slow down because it might dart in front of you. If you see one deer, look for the next one. Deer often travel together but single file.
- Don't swerve. While it may seem like the right thing to do, swerving to avoid a deer could cause you to lose control or travel into the path of another vehicle. Striking a deer is safer than colliding with another vehicle or a tree. Stay in your lane, brake firmly and hold onto the steering wheel.
- Motorcyclists should avoid night and low-light riding times. A rider’s best response when encountering a deer is to use both brakes for maximum braking and to keep their eyes and head up to improve chances of keeping the bike up. Riders should wear full face helmets and full protective gear.