Dear Drivers: Please Use Extra Caution This Fall

By David Wylie, Senior Technical Writer

By David Wylie, Senior Technical Writer

I recently made a very public, painful admission on this blog: I’m not from around these parts.

I spent the majority of my formative years in the Lone Star State, but I begrudgingly admit that I was, in fact, born in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

My mother remembers that as a student driver, she was taught a few things that aren’t in the curriculum in warmer parts of the country:

  1. Add 30 minutes to your morning commute. That’s about how long you’ll need to shovel your car out of the snow.
  2. Carry flashlights, blankets and other essentials. It’s not a matter of if you end up in a snow drift; it’s a matter of when. And you don’t know how long you’ll sit there before someone comes by and pulls you out. Remember, this was before cell phones.
  3. And finally, drive cautiously on rural roads, where deer are likely to cross.

The odds that a driver will have a claim from hitting a deer, elk or moose are 1 out of 169, according to an Insurance Journal article. The likelihood more than doubles during October, November and December.

To put that in perspective, you have a 1 in 36 chance of being a Price is Right contestant, a 1 in 175 chance of being audited by the IRS, and a 1 in 12,000 chance of finding a pearl in an oyster.

Not bad, but before you write off close encounters with deer as a risk you’re willing to accept, consider this: A full-grown buck is perfectly capable of totaling your vehicle and seriously injuring you.

Here are some tips for sharing the road with our four-legged fellow travelers this fall, courtesy of our partners at the Insurance Council of Texas:

  • Remember that deer activity is highest during dusk and dawn.
  • Drive defensively when approaching wooded draws or creek bottoms that intersect highways, especially in agricultural settings.
  • Be on the lookout when travelling newly constructed roads through deer habitat.
  • Use extreme caution when you see highway traffic signs indicating deer crossings, especially in the early morning and evening.
  • Scan roadways for deer, looking for eye reflections at night. Enlist passengers’ help.
  • Remember that vehicle headlights often daze or confuse deer. If you encounter a deer, slow down and maintain control. Steer straight rather than risk losing control and colliding with oncoming traffic or hitting objects off the road. Use your emergency flashers, or pump the brakes to alert vehicles approaching from behind.
  • Understand that deer are social animals that often travel in family groups. If you see one deer, there’s a good chance more are following.
  • Do not exit your vehicle to go check on a deer that has been hit. You are putting yourself at risk of being hit by a passing vehicle or attacked by a wounded animal. Stay in your vehicle and call emergency services.
  • Practice the basics: Wear your seatbelt, avoid distractions, stay alert and control your speed.

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