Caution: Beware of animals on the road

Deer rarely travel alone so if a driver sees one in the road he or she should expect more to be nearby. (Delaware State News file)

Deer rarely travel alone so if a driver sees one in the road he or she should expect more to be nearby. (Delaware State News file)

DOVER — October, November and December are the worst months for highway encounters with animals.

A collision with a deer or other animal can put a serious dent in your vehicle, if not destroy it.

In 2015, Delaware State Police logged a statewide total of 1,536 animal-vehicle crashes, up from 1,227 in 2014.

The crashes also resulted in two fatalities and 85 personal injuries. That was up from 54 personal injuries in 2014.

There were also 1,449 property damage crashes. There were 1,173 in 2014.

“Motorists need to be extra vigilant no matter what road they travel, but especially those on rural, wooded roads and during commuting times which coincide with high times of deer activity,” says Ken Grant, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

“If a deer-vehicle collision is unavoidable, don’t swerve out of your lane or lose control of your vehicle.

“Also protect yourself by always wearing a seat belt and staying alert behind the wheel.”

AAA Mid-Atlantic’s tips include:

• Continuously sweep your eyes across the road in front of you for signs of animals and movement, and look right and left, too. While the most likely accident is you hitting an animal, they might run into the side of your vehicle.

• Be especially attentive in early morning and evening hours. Many animals, especially deer, are most active from 5 to 8 a.m. and 5 to 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 down the road when going around curves.

•One  A long blast on your horn may frighten animals away from your vehicle.

• Use brakes if an impact is imminent. Don’t swerve. Instead, stay in your lane. 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.

• 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 drunk, distracted or drowsy.

• Don’t go near a wounded animal. A wounded animal can be unpredictable and cause injury. If it’s in the middle of the road and blocking traffic, call the police immediately.

• Consider purchasing comprehensive insurance, if you don’t already have it. Comprehensive insurance often covers animal strikes.

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