It’s that time of year in Iowa when fall foliage turns the landscape vibrant shades of yellow, orange and red. It’s also the time of year when Iowa roadways grow a little more dangerous because the deer population becomes more active and are often spotted along roadways. Of all states in the United States, Iowa ranks behind only West Virginia in the likelihood of deer collisions, followed closely by Michigan.
|Be sure to use caution when going around sharp turns like these, you |
never know what's around the corner.
Collisions between automobiles and deer are responsible for approximately 150 fatalities and about $1.1 billion in property damage every year in the U.S. according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Fall and winter are mating and migration season for deer, which means they are on the move and more likely to be on our roadways. Here’s a list of common sense do’s and don’ts to avoid a deer collision:
- Know When They're Most Active- Deer are most active during the months of October to December and likely to be seen about two hours before/after dawn and in the evening from about 6:00 – 9:00 PM.
- Be Aware of Posted Deer Crossing Signs- These signs are placed in active deer crossing areas and alert you of an increased likelihood of encountering a deer.
- Use Your Headlights- Use high beam headlamps as much as possible at night to illuminate the areas from which deer will enter roadways. High beams also help illuminate the animal's eyes so you can spot them sooner. Flicker your brights to alert drivers in the opposite direction if you spot a deer or herd.
- Deer Generally Travel in Herds- If you see one deer, there is a strong possibility others are nearby. Slow down and look for others before proceeding.
- Drive Defensively- Do as your driving instructor told you: Drive defensively and be ready to take evasive action, including braking suddenly. If you see a deer, don’t swerve. Brake firmly and honk your horn to try and frighten it away.
- If There Is No Other Option, Hit The Deer- If you have a choice between hitting an animal and swerving into traffic or off the road, hit the animal. It may seem cruel to say, but studies show many crashes happen not only when drivers hit deer, but also when they collide with another vehicle while trying to take evasive action.
If you hit a deer, don’t touch it. If possible, move your car off the road and report your collision to the police right away. Motorists are not allowed to keep the animal unless law enforcement provides a permit at the scene of the accident.