Drivers should be wary in November

The Prince Edward County Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police reminds drivers to be aware of increased deer activity during the fall months.

Every year, OPP responds to numerous car versus deer collisions, some even resulting in injuries to occupants. Deer collisions have been increasing over the last four years.

Over the last few years, the highest percentage of vehicle versus deer collisions have occurred in the month of November. Many of these collisions occurred between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and midnight.

Drivers are reminded to take the following approach: scan ditches and not just the road ahead, you may spot deer or other wildlife approaching; where you see one deer, expect more; watch for glowing eyes at night; do not drive distracted; do not overdrive your headlights; ensure you are wearing your seatbelt. If you need to stop in a hurry, you want your body restrained to prevent unnecessary injury or possible death.

The Canada Safety Council (CSC) has even more to say on this topic. Deer and other big-game populations are on the rise. At the same time, the number of vehicles on the road goes up every year. The combination of animals with traffic has led to a rise in serious collisions.

Ungulates (hoofed mammals) that stand high on their legs, such as moose and deer, pose the most danger to vehicle occupants. If they are hit they can roll onto the hood and into the windshield or roof, resulting in extensive damage and serious or fatal injury. Deer usually “bounce” off the bumper. It is important to use an appropriate avoidance strategy. Today’s large deer populations pose a year-round hazard. However, deer collisions peak in October and November, which is the mating season and the time for migration to winter living areas.

The sudden appearance of a large animal in the middle of the highway, seemingly out of nowhere, is any driver’s nightmare. To protect themselves, defensive drivers adapt their speed to conditions and keep alert for wildlife.

Vigilance is the first and best defence, especially when driving on unfamiliar rural roads. Watch out for warning signs that indicate high-risk areas. Use eye-lead time and take extra care. Ask passengers to help by scanning both sides of the roadway. Use your high beams when no traffic is approaching and never over-drive your headlights — you need to see an animal in time to avoid hitting it.

Should you spot an animal beside the road, slow down until you have safely passed it. Expect more animals to follow. Animals near the roadside may bolt suddenly, so approach with caution. Turn on your flashers to warn other drivers. Find more information on driving safely on this website www.canadasafetycouncil.org

-Debbie MacDonald Moynes