Keep an eye out for deer and deer-crossing signs

Staff report -

RICHLAND COUNTY — Just two years ago, Richland County had 510 deer-vehicle collisions. It was the second highest of Ohio’s 88 counties. This is the season to be extra aware on the roads. The increased risk is partly due to the fact that October through December is peak deer mating season in the Buckeye state.

Four deaths and 885 injuries were caused by Ohio D-V crashes in 2019.

“If there’s a ‘Deer Crossing’ sign, pay attention,” said Reed Richmond,s or Richland Public Health. “Those signs are there because they are areas well known for high, and active, wildlife populations. Use extreme caution, especially during these fall months and especially at dawn (5-8 a.m.) and at dusk (6-9 p.m.). Since the deer don’t know any better, don’t think of it as a deer crossing the road. Think of it as the road crossing the forest.”

“If you see one deer beside the road, slow down,” Richmond says. “Deer typically travel in groups, so the appearance of one approaching or crossing a road or a highway often indicates others’ presence nearby.”

November is the peak month for such collisions, representing nearly 23 percent of Ohio’s D-V crashes.

Should a collision appear imminent, OSHP authorities urge drivers not to swerve. Colliding with a deer is generally less hazardous than veering into opposing traffic or losing control and running off the road.

How to avoid hitting a deer

Know the time of day: Dusk and dawn are prime times for deer activity, especially the hours of 5-8 a.m. and 6-9 p.m., during the months of October-December.

Observe posted deer-crossing signs: Drive with extreme caution, at or below the posted speed limit, especially in areas where deer are prevalent.

Don’t swerve: If a collision with a deer seems probable, hit it while maintaining full control of your vehicle. Brake firmly and stay in your lane. A sudden swerve increases the risk of hitting another car or overturn. Note: If you hit a deer in your path, you will not be ticketed. However, if you have a crash after swerving to avoid a deer, you may be cited for failure to control.

Use your bright lights: After dark, use high beams when there’s no opposing traffic. High beams illuminate the eyes of deer on or near a road and provide greater motorist reaction time. Don’t rely solely on high beams to deter collisions.

Expect more than one: If you see a deer on or near a roadway, expect others to follow.

Wear your seat belt: As required by state law and drive at a safe, sensible speed for conditions.

Stay alert: Deer are unpredictable and can dart out into traffic on busy highways.

Don’t rely on deer avoidance devices: Deer whistles and special reflectors that are marketed to scare deer away are not proven to reduce collisions, and may lull you into a false sense of security.

Staff report