Fall is here and, oh, how cool is it to spot wildlife alongside the road near your favorite mountain playground? Moose, deer, fox, even bears. You pull over to shoot a shot with your iPhone. But what if you don't see Bambi before he jumps in front of your car to commit deer suicide?
According to stats from the Insurance Information Institute, there are 750,000 deer/car dances annually that result in at least 120 deaths a year (not sure if that's human or four-footed). Even if your body gets out unscathed, the average cost to repair the fender bender is $2800.
Don't get caught off guard. Here are some important tips to help you save a life.
- Don't ignore those deer crossing signs. They're there for good reason. Deer return to those spots year after year. These are usually places with woodlands, streams and golf courses.
- Be alert at dawn and dusk. Vision is already impaired. Don't mess it up even more by eating, dialing or doing your makeup. More than 60 percent of all deer collisions happen between 6 a.m.-9 a.m. and 6 p.m.-10 p.m.
- High beams on. You're more likely to spot animals in your periphery.
- Regularly eye the road from one side to the other.
- Slow down on rural roads. More animal-car collisions statistically occur on two-lane highways.
- There's usually more than one. The Animal Protection Institute reported that 70 percent of accidents happen with the second animal.
- Honk your horn. Slamming the brakes may spook a deer right into the path of another car. When you honk it's like telling them to get out of the road.
- Don't brake if a hit is inevitable. There's a better chance of you driving over the deer than if you slam on your brakes, the front end dives and the animal goes crashing into your windshield. Even better, brake then let your foot off right before impact. That way the nose of your car will actually lift up even more before impact.
- Try not to swerve. You see it in the movies all the time. The deer is left standing and you're in ditch, wrapped around a tree. Better him than you.
- Be extra careful from October to December. Not only are more deer moving about but breeding season is Oct.-Jan. Males are oblivious to anything but mating. Also, hunters can scare them out of the woods and into traffic.
- Don't rely on deer whistles and reflectors. There's no statistical proof they work. That said, I had a set of Bell Deer Warning whistles on the front of my Hyundai Santa Fe and never hit a deer. For $7, they couldn't hurt.