Drivers: hang onto your steering wheels for dear life: Autumn is approaching! And compared to the rest of the year, deer collisions in Connecticut abound.
A AAA Northeast analysis of deer-related crashes from the UConn Crash Data repository has found October, November and December continue to be the months when drivers most likely encounter our cloven-hoofed companions on roads. And those meetings aren’t always pleasant.
During that three-month period last year, 396 deer crashes – a number equivalent to one deer crash every six hours — occurred in The Nutmeg State, said AAA Northeast. Of those crashes, 31 resulted in injuries including one fatality, the most crashes since 2011.
Although deer-related crashes in 2020 were down compared to 2019, the percentage of crashes occurring after daylight hours hasn’t bucked any trends, said Fran Mayko, AAA Northeast spokeswoman.
“Between October and December last year, deer crashes most commonly occurred around sunset between 6 pm and 8 pm, before the autumn time change and between 5 pm and 7 pm after,” she said. “About 75% of deer crashes occurred outside daylight hours.”
“Drivers need to be especially vigilant at dusk,” said Mayko. “Deer present dangers to you and to your vehicle so it behooves everyone to be prepared since such crashes can be costly, even deadly.”
Most deer-related crashes occur because drivers simply don’t see deer crossing roadways in low-light conditions; other times, drivers are inattentive or speeding, she added.
According to the Repository, the highest number of reported strikes occurred in:
- Farmington with 20 crashes
- Wallingford, 17
- Orange, 16
- Southington, 15
- East Windsor, 13
- Simsbury and Guilford, 12 each
- Bloomfield, 11, and
- Avon, Berlin, Coventry, and Norwich, with 10 crashes each.
Avoiding a deer on roadways can be difficult; however, to minimize your risk, AAA Northeast suggests these tips:
- Scan the road ahead, including the shoulder since deer tend to dash from wooded areas into roads.
- Maintain a proper speed so you’ll have more time to respond to unexpected wildlife movements.
- Take care rounding curves and climbing hills where visibility is limited.
- Apply one long blast on your horn to frighten deer if you spy them early.
- If a crash is inevitable, grip your steering wheel, apply your brakes firmly and try to remain in your lane. Swerving to avoid an animal may cause you to lose control of your vehicle or create a more serious crash with vehicles in adjacent lanes.
- Most important, buckle up – no matter where you sit in a car, including the back seat — and expect the unexpected.