Watch for Deer

The county police issued a news release today advising residents "to be extra vigilant for deer while driving during October, November and December."

To avoid a dangerous and often costly collision with deer this fall, police offer the following driving tips:
§ Always wear your seat belt to reduce the possibility of injury in case of a collision.
§ Be alert for deer; drive cautiously --especially if you see a deer crossing sign. Be especially attentive at dusk and dawn during deer breeding season from mid-October to January. (Peak deer movement in the fall coincides with the time change back to standard time. This shifts rush hour into darkness hindering a driver's ability to see deer.)
§ When you spot a deer near the roadway, slow down and be ready for the animal to dart into the road. Honk your horn to try to scare the deer away. Deer often travel in groups, so if you see one deer near the roadway, be cautious for others.
§ When you see a deer on a roadway, flash your headlights from bright to dim and honk the horn to encourage it to move away from the road. Drive with lights on during overcast days and use high beams at night whenever possible. (Though headlights can confuse deer, the reflecting light from their eyes will help you to see them.) Warn drivers following you of the presence of deer by tapping on your brakes.
§ If a deer runs into the roadway, try to slow down or brake without swerving. Losing control of your car and crashing into another car or a stationary object can be more dangerous than hitting the deer.
§ If you cannot avoid hitting a deer, slow down and grasp the steering wheel firmly with both hands. Take your foot off the brake at the time of impact so the front end of your vehicle will lift up and enable the deer to go under the car, rather than over it (reducing the danger of it crashing through the windshield or windows). If the animal is injured or killed, report the collision through the non-emergency line at (703)691-2131.

In 2004 there were at 136reportable crashes between vehicles and deer in Fairfax County with 13 resulting in injuries to people.However, the actual number of collisions is likely between 3,000 and 5,000.If motorists remain alert and slow down to allow more reaction time, it is possible that some of these crashes could be avoided or result in less damage.

Update: A Post article on this subject was published Oct. 23.

By Steve Fehr |  October 20, 2005; 2:26 PM ET  | Category:  Public Safety
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