Autumn brings an increase in deer activity, prompting PennDOT to remind drivers to watch carefully for deer darting across and along roadways.
"Deer movement increases during the fall breeding season, making it all the more important for motorists to drive defensively and stay alert, especially at dawn and dusk, to reduce the risk of striking a deer," said PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E. "Motorists also need to be aware of hunters and others walking along roadways on their way into or out of the woods."
Deer pay less attention and become bolder as they move around more and travel greater distances during their breeding season. Primarily nocturnal feeders, deer are most active between sunset and sunrise.
Over the past five years, PennDOT statistics show nearly 46 percent of all reportable crashes involving a deer occurred in the months of October and November. More than 78 percent of the total crashes in the past five years involving deer occurred between the hours of 5 p.m. and 6 a.m. Last year, there were 2,797 crashes statewide involving deer, resulting in 636 injuries and 11 fatalities.
By following a few safety tips, motorists and outdoor enthusiasts can help reduce the possibility of being involved in a crash with a deer. Remember to:
• Be on the alert for individuals entering the woods early in the morning and leaving in the late evening hours;
• Pull vehicles as far off of the roadway as possible and remember that parking along limited access highways is prohibited except for emergencies;
• Seek permission before parking on private property;
• Wear reflective clothing and carry a flashlight or a glow stick to help increase your visibility;
• Make young drivers aware of increased deer movement;
• Slow down and use caution, particularly where deer crossing signs are posted and increase following distance between vehicles;
• Be especially watchful during morning and evening hours when wildlife is most active;
• Exercise caution when one deer crosses a roadway. Since deer often travel in small herds, one deer will usually be followed by others;
• Always wear your seat belt;
• Never drink and drive; and
• Turn on your headlights if your wipers are on – it's the law.
If a dead deer presents an obvious safety hazard on state roadways, motorists can call 1-800-FIX-ROAD to have the deer removed.
PennDOT also reminds motorists they can visit to 511pa.com or call 511 from any phone to check traffic conditions before heading out.
For more fall driving tips and other highway safety information, visit www.DriveSafePA.org.