Deer-mating season began in October, meaning that more deer are out at dusk and dawn, presenting a potential danger to motorists, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.
Some 1.6 million deer-vehicle crashes occur annually nationwide, resulting in approximately 200 fatalities, tens of thousands of injuries and more than $3.6 billion in vehicle damage, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
In Maryland, there were 1,587 animal-involved crashes on average yearly between 2007 and 2011, according to the latest data available from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration’s Highway Safety Office. On average, 1,355 crashes resulted in property damage, with animal-involved crashes resulting in 269 people being injured and one killed, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.
In Maryland, AAA Insurance reported a 2.8 percent increase in the number of animal collision claims filed by its insured motorists between 2010 and the end of 2012. During that time the average cost of a claim was approximately $1,980.
In Maryland, the auto club reports that the most animal collision claims filed were from Carroll, Baltimore, Frederick, Montgomery and Harford counties.
“Motorists need to be extra vigilant no matter what road they travel, but especially on rural, wooded roads and during commuting times, which coincide with high times of deer activity," according to an AAA press release.
"If a deer-vehicle collision is unavoidable, don't swerve out of your lane or lose control of your vehicle,” said Ragina Averella, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Also protect yourself by always wearing a seat belt and staying alert and sober.”
Deer can run as fast as 35 mph and can leap over 8-foot barriers, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
AAA Tips for Drivers During Deer Mating Season
- Scan the road and shoulders ahead of you. Looking ahead helps provide enough reaction time if an animal is spotted. Also, remember some animals move in groups, so when there is one, there are usually more in the area.
- Use high beam headlights if there’s no oncoming traffic. Wildlife may be spotted sooner when using high beams. This will give the driver time to slow down, move over or honk the horn to scare the animal away. High beams also help in spotting some animals’ reflective eyes.
- If a collision is unavoidable, apply the brakes firmly and remain in your lane. Swerving to avoid an animal can often cause a more serious crash or result in drivers losing control of vehicles.
- Be extra cautious at dawn and dusk. Most animals, especially deer, tend to be more active early in the morning and at dusk.
- Slow down and use extra caution when traveling through areas with a high and active wildlife population. Be aware of increased wildlife movement in some regions during certain times of year such as hunting or mating season.
- Drivers should always wear a seat belt and remain awake, alert and sober.
- Do not try to move the animal. An injured animal might panic and seriously injure someone. Call police or animal control for assistance.