Fall is officially here and AAA Mid-Atlantic is warning drivers to be more cautious on the roads.
October, November and December are the worst months of the year for motor vehicle collisions with animals due to deer mating season. A collision with a deer or other animal can put a serious dent in a vehicle, if not destroy it completely, and could result in serious injuries or fatalities.
According to Delaware State Police, 1,739 property damage crashes and 53 personal injury crashes in Delaware involved animals in 2018.
AAA has these tips to help prevent a crash or to reduce damage from an animal collision:
— Pay attention to road signs. Yellow, diamond-shaped signs with an image of a deer indicate areas with high levels of deer activity.
— Keep eyes moving back and forth. Continuously sweep eyes across the road for signs of animals and movement. Animals may also be alongside the road, so make sure to look to the right and left. While the most likely crash is hitting an animal, on occasion, animals can run into the side of a car.
— Be especially attentive in early morning and evening hours. Many animals, especially deer, are most active from 5-8 a.m. and 5-8 p.m., prime commuting times for many.
— Use high beams when there’s no oncoming traffic to 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 one is spotted, there are likely to be more nearby.
— Slow down around curves. It’s harder to spot animals when going around curves.
— One long blast. A long blast on the horn may frighten animals away from the vehicle.
— Resist the urge to swerve: Instead, stay in the lane with both hands firmly on the wheel. Swerving away from animals can confuse them so they don’t know which way to run. It can also put drivers in the path of oncoming vehicles or cause a crash into something like a lamppost or a tree.
— If the crash is imminent, take foot off the brake: during hard braking, the front end of the vehicle is pulled downward, which can cause the animal to travel up over the hood toward the windshield. Letting off the brake can protect drivers from windshield strikes because the animal is more likely to be pushed to one side of the vehicle or over the top of the vehicle.
— Always wear a seatbelt. The chances of getting injured when hitting an animal are much higher if a seatbelt isn’t worn. Also never drive drunk, distracted or drowsy.
— Consider purchasing comprehensive insurance — the type of insurance that covers animal strikes.
In the event of a collision with an animal, AAA recommends:
— Following the collision, call the police.
— Avoid making contact with the deer/animal. A frightened or wounded animal can hurt people or further injure itself.
— Put the vehicle’s hazard lights on; whether it’s light or dark outside.
— If possible, immediately move the vehicle to a safe location, out of the roadway and wait for help to arrive. Safety of the driver and passengers is most important.
— Contact insurance agent or company representative as quickly as possible to report any damage to a car. Collision with a deer or other animals is covered under the comprehensive portion of an automobile policy.