CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Drivers are being reminded to be extra observant on the roadways for deer as they enter a very active time of the year.
19,375 deer-related crashes were reported on Ohio roadways in 2019, according to the stats from the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP).
Almost half, 46%, of those crashes happened in October, November, and December, OSHP said.
So, why is that such a large percentage of these crashes happen in that three-month span?
The reason is that deer are much more active following the breeding season in late October and through November, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).
“Males pursue prospective mates throughout the season. However, they often encounter females that are not yet willing to breed, which can result in pursuits where deer will dart into roadways with little caution," the ODNR explained. "This action leads to an increase in deer-related vehicle accidents this time of year.”
If you do see a deer in the road, OSHP says slow down, but do not swerve.
Swerving can cause you to lose control of the vehicle, which could result in serious or even fatal injuries, according to OSHP.
Of the 19,375 deer-related crashes reported last year in Ohio, four of them resulted in someone’s death, OSHP stated.
Here are some additional tips from OSHP on avoiding animal collisions:
- Scan the road: Looking ahead helps provide enough reaction time if an animal is spotted. Also, remember some animals, like deer, move in groups, so when there is one, there are usually more in the area.
- Use high beam headlights if there is no oncoming traffic: This can help you spot deer or other wildlife more quickly and give you time to slow down, move over or honk the horn to scare the animal away. High beams also help in spotting animals' reflective eyes.
- Be extra cautious at dawn and dusk: Deer tend to be more active in the early morning and at dusk. That’s why these are peak times for deer-vehicle collisions.
- If a collision is unavoidable, apply the brakes firmly and remain in your line: Swerving to avoid an animal can often cause a more serious crash or cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Drivers who swerve to miss a deer and hit something else may be charged for an at-fault crash.
- Always wear a seatbelt and remain awake, alert, and sober: The chances of getting injured when hitting an animal are much higher if you don’t have your seatbelt on. If you’re distracted or drowsy, you’re not properly scanning the road for deer and could end up spotting them too late.
If you do hit a deer, here is what OSHP says to do:
- Following the collision, call the police.
- Avoid making contact with the deer/animal. A frightened and wounded animal can be dangerous and pose a threat when approached or might further injure itself.
- Activate the vehicle’s hazard lights whether it’s light or dark outside.
- If possible, move the vehicle to a safe location out of the roadway, and wait for help to arrive.
- Drivers should contact their insurance agent or company representative as quickly as possible to report any vehicle damage.