AAA is warning drivers to be more cautious on the road this fall to avoid animal-vehicle collisions.
According to ODOT, in 2018 there were 18,302 deer collision crashes reported in Ohio, including 49 in Champaign County, 204 in Clark County, 202 in Darke County, 325 in Greene County, 259 in Miami County, 215 in Montgomery County and 124 in Preble County.
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AAA offers these tips to help avoid collisions:
- Pay attention to road signs. Yellow, diamond-shaped signs with an image of a deer indicate areas with high levels of deer activity.
- Continually scan roadways. Drivers should continuously sweep their eyes across the road in front of the vehicle looking for signs of animals and movement. Animals may also travel alongside the road, so make sure to look along both sides of the road. While the most likely crash happens when drivers strike an animal, on occasion the animal may run into the vehicle.
- Be especially attentive in early morning and evening hours. Many wild animals, especially deer, are most active from 5 to 8 a.m. and 5 to 8 p.m.
- Use high beams when there's no oncoming traffic to spot animals sooner. Sometimes the light reflecting off their eyes will reveal their location.
- Slow down and watch for other deer to appear. Deer rarely travel alone, so if drivers see one, they are likely to be more nearby.
- Slow down around curves. It's harder to spot animals when going around curves.
- One long blast of a horn may frighten the animals away from the vehicle.
- Resist the urge to swerve. Instead, drivers need to concentrate on keeping the vehicle in the marked lanes of travel with both hands firmly on the wheel. Swerving away from animals may place drivers in the path of oncoming vehicles or result in a crash with something along the roadway.
- If the deer collision crash is imminent, drivers should take their foot off the break. During hard braking, the front end of the vehicle is pulled downward which can cause the animal to travel up over the hood towards the windshield. Letting off the brake can protect drivers from windshield strikes because the animal is more likely to be pushed to one side of the vehicle or over the top of the vehicle.
- Always wear a seat belt. Also, never drive impaired, distracted or drowsy.
- Drivers should consider purchasing comprehensive insurance, if they don't already have it. This type of insurance covers animal strikes.
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If you collide with an animal, AAA recommends:
- Following the collision, call the police.
- Avoid making contact with the deer/animal. A frightened or wounded animal can be dangerous and pose a threat when approached or might further injure itself.
- Activate the vehicle's hazard lights whether it's light or dark outside.
- If possible, move the vehicle to a safe location, out of the roadway, and wait for help to arrive.