Driving Danger In The Headlights…Deer/Car Collisions On The Rise
Take a drive outside the city of San Angelo in any direction and it becomes clear very quickly, there's not a lot out there. Long stretches of undeveloped land stretch forth in all directions, whether you're going east or west, north or south on Highways 67, 277 or 87. Not to mention the endless Farm To Market Roads that crisscross the area.
If you've driven any of those roads lately you have noticed the endless supply of dead deer carcasses by the side of the road. Usually, peak season for vehicle collisions with deer are October through December. However, when the conditions are unusually dry, like they have been this Spring, deer are often ranging in wider areas looking for food. The peak hours right around dawn and dusk.
Even the most cautious driver can collide with a fast moving deer. If a deer crosses your path, what do you do? Do you swerve to miss the deer? That is the first instinct, but experts say resist that urge. You could veer off the road or into oncoming traffic. Head on collisions with another vehicle on West Texas' two lane highways at 75 or 80 miles an hour are way more catastrophic than hitting a deer.
Is there anything you can do to avoid vehicle-deer collisions? One thing, try to avoid driving at dusk or dawn. One of the main reasons deer veer into the road is that they are distracted by the desire for mating. In addition, because deer eyes contain more photoreceptors in their retinas, they have phenomenal night vision. These same photoreceptors make them susceptible to freezing in the road when looking directly into oncoming headlights. They can't move because they are blinded by the light.
If a deer crosses your path come to a complete stop. If you hit a deer, make sure you check to see if anyone is hurt and report the location of the collision with police and your insurance company.
Overall, we're lucky here in Texas when it comes to deer-vehicle collisions. Texas ranks #38 in the likelihood of hitting a deer. Paying attention to the deer crossing signs is a great preventative measure. An ounce of prevention is worth a lot of money. The average cost of fixing damage from a deer strike is now well over $4000. Every year here in West Texas there are dozens of deaths related to deer-vehicle collisions. If you drive at night be aware of those telltale green shiny eyes in the distance. When you see one, there are surely many others.
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