There are few feelings of helplessness more intense than when a deer suddenly appears on the roadway ahead of you.
And, yes, the immortal words, “It’s almost like they want to get hit,” will surely be uttered frequently during this autumn season.
Deer bolting into traffic is a fact of life in rural areas — and even in some urban areas — so the best defense for motorists is to be on high alert and prepared to deal with the dangers ahead of you.
According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, nearly 50 percent of all vehicle accidents involving deer occur between October and December. That’s when deer are more active and when daylight hours for motorists have decreased.
Indiana researchers reported 15,205 deer-related collisions in 2011, the most recent year for which statistics were available.
The DNR is trying to help by distributing the following information and urging motorists to practice defensive driving to help reduce chances of becoming a deer-vehicle collision statistic:
• Deer are most active between sunset and sunrise.
• Deer often travel in groups, so if you see one, another is likely nearby.
• Be especially careful in areas where you have seen deer before.
• Use high beams when there is no opposing traffic; scan for deer’s illuminated eyes or dark silhouettes along the side of the road.
• If you see a deer, slow your speed drastically, even if it is far away.
• Exercise extreme caution along woodlot edges, at hills or on blind turns.
• Never swerve to avoid hitting a deer; most serious crashes occur when drivers try to miss a deer but hit something else.
The Indiana State Police also warn drivers to watch out for deer this time of year as the hunting season begins, causing an increase in movement and rise in car-deer collisions. Police say crop harvesting also causes deer to be on the move.
With deer being seemingly ever-present near highways, deer-vehicle crashes will remain a fact of life. But heightened attention from motorists will help the cause.
Be careful out there.