It’s that time of year again: the time when deer become more active — and more likely to run out in front of your car.
The state Thruway Authority and state police say October through November and May through June are the most common times for car-deer collisions. Last year, 2,053 such incidents occurred along the Thruway.
Any driver who hits a deer should make every attempt to drive their vehicle onto the right shoulder, activate four-way flashers, call 911 and wait in the vehicle until help arrives.
Of course, avoiding them altogether is usually better. Here are a few tips:
• Pay attention to deer-crossing signs, especially along the Thruway. These signs indicate a history of frequent deer crossings in the area.
• Be especially aware of deer during their peak activity times — dawn and dusk — and their peak seasons — May/June and October/November
• Scan shoulders of the roadside for deer eyes reflecting light.
• One deer crossing the road may indicate others are about to cross. Watch for other deer — they will move fast to catch up with leaders, mothers, or mates and may not pay attention to traffic.
• Do not rely on high beams or honking your horn to warn deer.
• Deer often use woodlots, fencerows, field edges or areas near water. Extra caution is needed when these habitats are close to the Thruway.
• Always buckle your seat belt. Ejection from a vehicle is the main reason that fatalities occur in a collision.
• Deer hooves slip on pavement and a deer may fall in front of your vehicle just when you think it is jumping away.
• Increase the distance between your vehicle and other cars, especially at night. If the car ahead of you hits a deer, you may also become involved in the accident.
• If a collision is unavoidable, hold onto the steering wheel; do not swerve to avoid hitting the deer. Bring the vehicle to a complete stop. The most serious vehicle versus deer accidents occur when drivers swerve at high speeds to elude a deer, and then strike another vehicle, a tree or roll over.
• If you are involved in a vehicle versus deer collision, do not attempt to approach or touch the deer.