With the deer-rutting period soon to begin, motorists have to keep a keen eye out for deer running across or jumping out from roadways. It’s a time when rutting bucks chase doe’s that are in heat.
This weekend a motorist, traveling on the Northeast Extension of the turnpike in Washington Township, Lehigh County, was killed when a deer ran through his windshield and into his car causing the driver to veer off the roadway and into the woods.
With our high deer population and the rut forthcoming, deer are going to be extremely active. And here in Pennsylvania, our state ranks fifth in the country for the odds of motorists hitting deer.
West Virginia is ranked as one in 41 that a West Virginia motorist will most likely hit a deer.
According to the Claims Journal of State Farm Insurance, they estimate about 1.22 million deer-related collisions occurred in the states between July1, 2012 and June 30, 2013. The amount marks a 3.5 percent decrease from a year ago.
While North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Michigan and Kansas all show declines in deer-vehicle collisions, the chance of hitting a deer in West Virginia rose by 8.3 percent followed by Montana in second place, Iowa third, South Dakota fourth and Pennsylvania fifth. Not surprising, Hawaii was the least likely state for deer collisions with odds at 1 in 6,787.
Overall throughout the country, deer-vehicle collisions rose by two percent over the last five years. However, when considering the growing number of drivers on America’s roadways, deer-related incidents have actually dropped by 2.5 percent.
Some years ago there was a big advertising push for vehicle mounted deer whistles and ultrasonic devices that mounted on bumpers. The devices were suppose to produced a high-pitched whistle that was indiscernible to human ears and could only be heard by deer and other animals. But it was later surmised that they didn’t perform as expected.
According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, about two-thirds of deer-vehicle accidents occur during October, November and December (top deer hunting months), and especially in early morning and dusk hours. It’s a time too when this summer’s fawns – left alone while their does follow nature’s calling – sometimes naively wander into troublesome predicaments. At this time deer don’t seem to maintain the distance or wariness that keeps them from interacting with motorists, hence accidents.
The PGC also advises that when a deer successfully crosses a road, motorists shouldn’t assume the danger is over as deer often travel in family groups and in single file. When one crosses a road it often signals that it’s safe for the others to follow.
A study by the PGC and Penn State indicates many yearling bucks will be traveling more during the fall. They may travel anywhere from four to as far as 40 miles or more from their home range during the breeding season. And as daylight savings time kicks in, more motorists will be driving during dawn, dusk and darkened hours which are peak periods for deer activity.
The PGC recommends that if it appears you will collide with a deer, do not swerve to avoid the animal as more human injuries occur when drivers swerve to avoid deer and instead collide with roadside obstacles or vehicles in the opposing lane - than if they hit the animal.
It’s estimated, says the PGC, that each year in the United States 29,000 people are injured and more than 200 lose their lives in deer-vehicle collisions. The remedy? The PGC strongly recommends driving defensively and alertly, as it’s the only way to reduce the risk of having a deer-vehicle accident.
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