Maryland is classified as a high risk state for vehicle collisions with deer, which if you drive and live in our area doesn’t come as a big surprise to you! The same holds true for most of our neighboring states including West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Though not in the top ten, statistics show that in Maryland, 1 in every 141 motorists will have a collision with a deer in the next 12 months. For the third year in a row, West Virginia tops the list of states where a collision is most likely to occur at 1 in 39 with Pennsylvania 1 in 94, and Virginia rounding out the top 10.
The fall, when deer are mating and in many rural areas drawn out of their habitat by hunters, is the time of year when the most deer-vehicle incidents are reported. While Maryland has seen a 27% increase in deer-vehicle collisions in the past few years along with increases in other states, there are things you can do to help minimize your chances of being one of these statistics.
Defensive driving tips to avoid hitting a deer:
- Be especially attentive from sunset to midnight and during the hours shortly before and after sunrise. These are the highest risk times for deer-vehicle collisions.
- Drive with caution when moving through deer-crossing zones, in areas known to have a large deer population and in areas where roads divide agricultural fields from forestland. Deer seldom run alone. If you see one deer, others may be nearby.
- When driving at night, use high beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic. The high beams will better illuminate the eyes of deer on or near the roadway.
- Slow down and blow your horn with one long blast to frighten the deer away.
- Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path, but stay in your lane. Many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or lose control of their cars.
- Always wear your seat belt. Most people injured in car/deer crashes were not wearing their seat belt.
- Do not rely on devices such as deer whistles, deer fences and reflectors to deter deer. These devices have not been proven to reduce deer-vehicle collisions.
If your vehicle strikes a deer, do not touch the animal. A frightened and wounded deer can hurt you or further injure itself. The best procedure is to get your car off the road, if possible, and call the police.
Contact your insurance agent (Rossmann-Hurt-Hoffman, Inc. of course!) to report any damage to your car. Collision with an animal is usually covered under the comprehensive portion of your auto insurance policy if you carry that coverage. http://www.iii.org/individuals/auto/lifesaving/deercar/