With Fall in full swing and winter approaching, East Texans could likely see deer and wildlife in or near the roadway. The Texas Department of Transportation wants drivers to be alert to the facts of motor vehicle crashes involving wildlife and offers driving tips to help insure a safe trip through the Pineywoods.
In Texas, about 6,700 crashes a year involve wildlife, resulting in about 17 fatalities. TxDOT urges drivers to be vigilant as they drive through areas known to be inhabited by deer, especially in the Fall mating season that is known to be from October to December in conjunction with hunting season. A few tips that could help you avoid accidents with wildlife include:
-Slow down when entering wildlife populated areas. Headlights have an illumination range of 200 to 250 feet. To allow for sufficient brake time, reduce your speed to 45 mph at night when driving through areas heavily populated by wildlife and to 30 mph when roads are wet, foggy, or icy.
-Scan ahead and watch for movement along roadsides. Deer and other wildlife are more active from 6 p.m. to midnight. If you are alone on the road at night, use high-beam headlights and stay alert. Keep in mind that if you see one deer, more deer are likely nearby.
-Pay attention to shoulders. Even though wildlife may be off to the side as your car approaches, animals may suddenly attempt to flee by running into the roadway. Slow as you approach, and use your horn which could scare them back into the woods.
-Brake, don't swerve. Swerving increases the chance of rolling your vehicle or going into oncoming traffic.
-Avoid the use of cell phones while driving. If you are distracted the chances increase that you will not have time to react properly.
-Always wear a seatbelt. It will help protect you from injury should you collide with an animal.
-Do not approach an injured deer should you collide with one. They can act erratically. Instead, call the police or authorities for help.
It's easy to accidentally hit animals while driving, but with a little bit of knowledge, it's sometimes preventable.