Time for motorists to watch for deer

Staff report

The Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources remind motorists of the increase in deer-related traffic crashes this time of year.

In 2019, statistics from the OSHP show there were 19,375 deer-related crashes on Ohio’s roadways. Of those crashes, four resulted in fatal injuries to motorists and 966 people were injured. Additionally, 46% of these crashes occurred October through December.

“I encourage everyone to always be attentive while driving on Ohio’s roadways, especially during this peak time of year for deer-related crashes,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “Always use your safety belt and never drive distracted.”

Top counties for deer-related crashes include Stark, Richland, Lorain, Trumbull, and Hancock, with US-30, I-71 and I-80 being the leading roadways in the state.

“Always avoid distractions and keep your full focus on the roadway,” said OSHP Colonel Richard Fambro. “If you see a deer slow down, but do not swerve. If you strike a deer, move to a safe place if you are able, turn on your hazard lights, and report the crash.”

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), deer become much more active during the fall breeding season which occurs from late October through November. Males pursue prospective mates throughout the season. However, they often encounter females that are not yet willing to breed, which can result in pursuits where deer will dart into roadways with little caution.

Drivers are encouraged to be extra cautious in areas where habitat features – fence rows, riparian corridors or other blocks of forested habitat – intersect a roadway. Deer and other wildlife use these corridors and patches to traverse the landscape.

“Deer increase their daily movements in the fall months, but they are incredibly unpredictable,” ODNR wildlife Chief Kendra Wecker said. “The best advice to keep everyone safe is to stay alert and remember deer rarely run alone.”

Recent data estimates the average insurance claim for a deer-vehicle collision in Ohio is nearly $4,000.

To avoid animal collisions:

• Scan the road ahead, providing enough reaction time if an animal is spotted. When there is one, there are usually more in the area.

• Use high beam headlights if there is no oncoming traffic to help spot deer or other wildlife more quickly. High beams also help in spotting animals’ reflective eyes.

• Be extra cautious at dawn and dusk, when deer tend to be more active.

• If a collision is unavoidable, apply the brakes firmly and remain in your lane. Swerving to avoid an animal can often cause a more serious crash or cause loss of control of a vehicle. Drivers who swerve to miss a deer and hit something else may be charged for an at-fault crash.

• Always wear a seat belt and remain awake, alert, and sober.

If a motorist hits a deer, they should call the police. Avoid making contact with the animal, which can be dangerous if frightened or wounded. Activate the vehicle’s hazard lights whether it’s light or dark outside. And, if possible, move the vehicle to a safe location out of the roadway and wait for help to arrive.

Motorists can dial #677 from their mobile device to be connected to the nearest OSHP post.

Staff report