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Driving Today

Good News on Deer Tempered by Caution

Although deer-related vehicle accidents are down, autumn is primetime for such mishaps.

As we reported yesterday, vehicle collisions that involve deer are on a downward trend, implying that deer might be getting smarter or simply moving to neighborhoods with less traffic. Perhaps now that property values are down due to the recession, the deer have been able to move up to less-congested neighborhoods, where they are less likely to be the victims of car crashes. But all this good news should be seen in context. Deer-vehicle crashes were down last year, but we are about to enter primetime for deer-vehicle collisions: the dreaded fall mating season.

State Farm’s data shows that November, the heart of the deer migration and mating season, is the month during which deer-related vehicle collisions are most likely to occur. More than 18 percent of all such mishaps take place during the month of November, and a confrontation between a deer and a vehicle will occur once every five seconds in the month, which is roughly equivalent to the time it took you to read this sentence. October is the second most dangerous month for crashes that involve deer, and December is third, so we are in the middle of a danger zone right now. For those of you who like to play the odds, collisions with deer are three times more likely to occur on a day in November than they are on any day between February 1 and August 31, when deer are at their cagiest. But once those mating hormones start to flow, they run in front of cars with alarming frequency.

To avoid become a statistic in the deer-car continuum, you’ll want to follow these tips:

  • Be aware of posted deer-crossing signs. Wise deer routinely use these crossing areas, assuming they’ll be safe.
  • Keep in mind that deer generally travel in herds, especially during the mating season. If you see one deer, don’t assume you’ve seen them all.
  • Remember that deer are most active between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Do not rely on car-mounted deer whistles.