As the brisk air of Fall moves into the area with it comes the threat of animal collisions as deer mating season is in full swing from October to December. These months are the most dangerous for Ohio drivers when it comes to animal collisions according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).
“Animal-vehicle collisions start to increase in October and peak in mid-November,” said AAA Public Affairs Manager, Cindy Antrican. “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 the times for high levels of deer activity.”
AAA also is reminding drivers that swerving to in an attempt to miss a deer can often be a disastrous mistake, as it may cause you to hit another car head-on.
AAA says although animals are unpredictable there are some ways you can possibly prevent animal crashes and make sure they don’t turn into fatal accidents:
- Pay attention to road signs. Yellow, diamond-shaped signs with an image of a deer indicate areas with high levels of deer activity.
- Keep your eyes moving back and forth. Continuously sweep your eyes across the road in front of you for signs of animals and movement. Animals may also be alongside the road, so make sure to look to the right and left, as well. While the most likely crash is you hitting an animal, on occasion they might also hit you by running into the side of your car.
- 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.
- Slow down around curves. It's harder to spot animals when going around curves.
- One long blast. A long blast on your horn may frighten animals away from your vehicle.
- Resist the urge to swerve: Instead, stay in your lane with both hands firmly on the wheel. 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 or cause you to crash into something like a lamppost or a tree.
- If the crash is imminent take your foot off the brake: during hard braking the front end of your vehicle is pulled downward which can cause the animal to travel up over the hood towards your windshield. Letting off the brake can protect drivers from windshield strikes because the animal is more likely to be pushed to one side of the vehicle or over the top of the vehicle.
- Always wear a seatbelt. The chances of getting injured when hitting an animal are much higher if you don't have your seatbelt on. Also never drive impaired, distracted or drowsy.
- Consider purchasing comprehensive insurance, if you don't already have it. Comprehensive insurance is the type of insurance that covers animal strikes.
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