By ALLEN MCQUISTON
The Jemez Agency
The temperatures have gotten cooler, and the leaves are falling from the trees. Fall also means animal-related car accidents are likely to rise.
Between October and December, the annual deer breeding season (known as the rut) occurs.
Deer can be very active and unpredictable during this time, and many find their way to our roadways.
Five recommended safety tips:
- Be alert!
- More deer are on the road around dusk and dawn;
- Deer crossing signs are posted where deer are likely to cross;
- Large deer populations are located near wooded areas;
- Deer are herd animals – if you see one, it is likely there are more; and
- Deer don’t only live in rural areas.
- Use high beam headlights when safe to do so, to increase your visibility.
- Reduce speed in areas where deer are suspected.
- Wear your seatbelt or motorcycle helmet. The size of an adult male deer can be 200-plus pounds, and a collision with one can pack a powerful punch.
- Don’t swerve! Swerving can cause you to lose control and hit an object, another vehicle, or even be involved in a rollover accident. Swerving to miss one deer can steer you into the path of another.
Contact with the animal alone was not the cause of the majority of fatalities from animal collisions. Safety belts and motorcycle helmets could have prevented many deaths, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
If you hit a deer:
- Pull over and call local law enforcement;
- Ask for medical assistance if you or your passengers are injured;
- Stay away from the animal. It could still be alive and panic; and
- Report the accident to your insurance as soon as possible.