Anyone who lives in deer country knows that fall is the most dangerous time of year. It's when deer-vehicle collisions peak. In many areas, it's not if you hit a deer, it's when you hit one.
Over the last 20 years I've hit six deer. One totaled my car, and another did $3,000 in damage. Fortunately I escaped injury in each of the collisions, but about 150 people die every year in deer-vehicle collisions.
State wildlife agencies invariably report that deer-vehicle collisions rise in October and peak in November. This coincides with the peak of the rut (deer mating season) and deer-hunting season. Bucks chase does with abandon; both sexes ignore traffic. And hunters disrupt the deer's normal movement patterns. From mid-October to mid-December, deer can appear on highways anywhere and anytime. They are most active, however, from dusk until dawn.
So, be careful, and keep these tips in mind.
* Deer are everywhere. You're as likely to encounter one on a city street as on a rural interstate.
* Deer behave unpredictably. When you see one up ahead, slow down and expect it to cross the road in front of you.
* Deer are social and often move in groups. If you see one cross the road, expect more to follow.
* When there's no oncoming traffic, use high beams. They will illuminate the eyes of deer on the side of the road.
* If you see a deer on the road ahead of you, brake firmly, but stay in your lane. If you swerve to avoid a 120-pound deer, you may hit an oncoming 3,000-pound vehicle, a tree, or lose control of the car.
* If there are young, inexperienced drivers in the family, remind them of the damage that deer can do to vehicles and people.