Drivers should always pay attention to the “Deer Crossing” signs they see along the highway. Deer and cars can be a deadly combination. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says 200 people die annually from collisions with deer.
These encounters are likely to occur during deer hunting season — between late September and December — when there is a noticeable increase in the movement of the deer population.
Drivers need to be mindful that deer aren’t just found on rural roads near wooded areas. In fact, many deer crashes occur on busy highways near Johnson City, Elizabethton and Jonesborough.
The Insurance Information Institute recommends motorists take the following precautions to avoid deer-related collisions:
— Drive with caution when moving through deer-crossing zones, in areas known to have a large deer population and in areas where roads divide agricultural fields from forestland.
— Always wear your seat belt and stay awake, alert and sober.
— When driving at night, use high-beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic. Drive slower at night, especially in areas where deer are common.
— Be especially attentive from sunset to midnight and during the hours shortly before and after sunrise, which are the highest risk times for deer-vehicle collisions.
— If you see a deer in or near your path, brake firmly without swerving. Stay in your lane. Never veer for deer. Most deaths and injuries occur when drivers swerve and hit a tree, building or another car.
— Do not rely on such ineffective devices as deer whistles, deer fences and reflectors to deter deer.
— If you do hit a deer, avoid going near or touching the animal. A frightened and wounded deer can hurt you or further injure itself.
And be sure to report the crash to the nearest law enforcement agency and animal control office, as well as to your insurance company.