A Deer in Your Headlights
A note to all of our Bieritz Agency clients and friends:
During the months of November and December our local populations of deer are migrating and mating, resulting in a dramatic increase of movement. More deer collisions occur during these months than at any other time of year, so we urge drivers to be especially careful, particularly in the early morning and evening hours (times when many people are commuting to and from work).
Deer collisions can cause a great deal of damage and can also be lethal. A “heavy” deer might weigh over 200 pounds, but even an eighty-pound yearling is capable of totaling a vehicle traveling at high speed. According to New York Outdoor News, motorists hit over 80,000 white-tailed deer on New York roadways each year (the third highest rate of reported incidents in the U.S.), almost 20% of which happen during the month of November.
Deer tend to stick to certain major travel corridors, which they adjust seasonally to match their movements to food availability and other habitat needs. Deer warning road signs often indicate areas where deer are often sighted or where multiple collisions have occurred. A collision can be a car hitting a deer or a deer hitting a car. Most people are aware that when you see one deer, there is usually another. This holds up not only when there are young fawns in early summer, but also during breeding season where bucks follow does or in later winter months when groups of males form “bachelor groups”.
Traveling at slower speeds increases your reaction time if a deer leaps out in front of your vehicle. Scan the roadsides and watch for eyeshine in your headlights (only visible if the deer looks directly at your car). Use high beams if there is no oncoming traffic and low beams if it is foggy or snowing. If you see and successfully avoid deer, flash your lights at oncoming vehicles to warn them of a hazard ahead, and watch the behavior of cars around you as well – a car slowing suddenly could indicate a deer in the area. Make sure your headlights, brakes and tires are all in good shape. It is recommended to hit your brakes to try to stop and not swerve to try to avoid a collision. Swerving out of the travel lane increases the risk of hitting another vehicle or losing control of the car.
Because most of our local country roads intersect with wildlife habitat, our drivers have a greater chance of collision, so please keep in mind the above tips to help minimize your risk. Damage caused by an accident with deer or other animals is covered under the optional comprehensive portion (not the collision portion) of an automobile insurance policy. If you would like to check your coverage, please give us a call at our Cooperstown, NY office at (607) 547-2951 and our Bieritz Insurance Agency staff will be happy to help you. Safe driving to all from the Bieritz Team!