XENIA — The Greene County Safe Communities Coalition is reminding residents how to be safe drivers during deer season.
According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety Crash Statistics website, from Oct.1, 2016 through Jan. 31, 2017, there were 8,839 deer related crashes statewide with 368 people injured and two people killed. November saw the most crashes with 4,256, or just about 142 per day.
Greene County saw its fair share of deer-vehicle activity during the same period in 2016 totaling 158 crashes resulting in seven injuries, but no fatalities. Because many deer-vehicle collisions go unreported to police and local authorities, the actual number of crashes throughout Ohio may be as high as 60,000 each year. Last year, the areas with the highest number of deer-vehicle crashes were urban areas.
Knowing what to do when encountering a large animal on or near the roadway can be a life-saver. Here are some tips:
• Deer are most often along the road side near dawn, around 7 a.m., and again at dusk, approximately 7:30 p.m.
• Deer breeding season runs from October through early January, and during this time they are highly active and on the move.
• Though deer may wander into suburban neighborhoods, they are most frequently found on the outskirts of town and in heavily wooded areas.
• As pack animals, deer almost never travel alone. If you see one deer, you can bet that there are others nearby.
• To avoid a deer-vehicle collision, slow down. If driving through an area known for high deer populations, slow down and observe the speed limit. The more conservative the driver is with speed, the more time there is to brake if necessary.
• Always wear a seatbelt. The most severe injuries in deer-vehicle collisions usually result from failure to use a seatbelt.
• Watch for the shine of eyes along the roadside and immediately begin to slow.
• Use high beams whenever the road is free of oncoming traffic. This will increase visibility and allow for more time to react.
• Deer can become mesmerized by steady, bright lights. Experts recommend slowing down, flashing lights, and some say one long blast of the horn will scare them out of the road.
• Pay close attention to caution signs indicating deer or other large animals. These signs are specifically placed in high-traffic areas where road crossings are frequent.
• If driving on a multi-lane road, drive in the center lane to give as much space to grazing deer as possible.
Encountering a Deer
• Never swerve to avoid a deer in the road. Swerving can confuse the deer on where to run. Swerving can also cause a head-on collision with oncoming vehicles, take the car off the roadway into a tree or a ditch, and greatly increase the chances of serious injuries.
• Deer are unpredictable creatures, and one that is calmly standing by the side of the road may suddenly leap into the roadway without warning. Slowing down is the best way to avoid a collision. However, if one does move into the pathway of the car, maintain control, brake, and give the deer time to get out of the way.
• Don’t rely on hood whistles or other devices designed to scare off deer. These have not been proven to work.
• In the event of a collision, call emergency services if injuries are involved, or the local police if no one is injured, but damage has been caused to property. Never touch an animal that is in the roadway. Report the incident to an insurance company as soon as possible. Keeping calm and driving smart improves the chances of avoiding a collision and staying safe on the road.
For more information on the Greene County Safe Communities Coalition, call Jillian Drew at 937-374-5683 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story courtesy of Greene County Public Health.