Driving with the possibility of having one or more deer dart out on the road varies by where you are driving. This article applies to driving on a road where the probability of deer being present is high. When driving in deer country, the way you drive should be modified, especially at night or in other poor visibility driving conditions.
Take notice of the landscape you are driving through. What is the terrain around the road you are driving on. Can a deer run out on the road without being seen until the deer is on the road, or do you have clear view of both sides of the road?
Is it day or night time? Deer are most active during dawn and dusk, but if they are being bothered by predators such as pack dogs, they will run. Running into the road may be the only direction a deer can escape danger in.
What season you are in makes a difference. Deer breed or ‘Rut’ in the late fall. When this happens male deer known as Buck, rounds up as many female deer, known as Does, as he can, hoping to breed with each of his new found harem. Often some of the Doe’s are not in the mood to breed at the moment and try to run off given the chance.
The Buck, herds the Does moving them in front of him in an attempt to keep them together and distance himself from rival Bucks attentions.The Does, are being pushed or herded, so stepping out on the road in front of a moving car is no different for them than moving through the woods.
Your view of the road and sides of the road is much better during the daylight hours. You have a better chance of seeing a deer moving toward the road than you do when the lighting is poor. Deer are adaptably colored. They are difficult to see any time of the day or night.
Look for movement first and the shape of a deer secondly, while scanning both sides of the roadway. Our eyes are better at noticing movement than they are picking out a deer partially hidden by shrubs or grass.
Travel at a reasonable speed. The distance you can slow down, stop or swerve if need be is more important than how long the trip will take. The trip will take much longer if you hit a deer and you are hurt and your car damaged.
If you are driving at night, slow down. You have to observe everything you watch in the daytime when deer may be present. With it being night time, you are now depending on your headlights to light the road for you. Most car headlights do a better job of lighting the road ahead than they do lighting the sides of the road.
If memory serves, about fifty-five miles per hour or eight-eight kilometer per hour is about the fastest one can drive and have a reasonable chance of avoiding hitting a deer with ample visual warning.
Any faster than these speeds and you greatly increase the probability that you are overdriving your headlights. Of course road conditions and visual warning times are the best indicator of the speed you should drive at.
Be careful of overdriving your headlights. Drive too fast in the wrong conditions, and the deer you see becomes the deer you hit.
“Overdriving your headlights means not being able to stop inside the illuminated area ahead. It is difficult to judge other vehicles’ speeds and distances at night. Do not overdrive your headlights—it creates a blind “crash area” in front of your vehicle. You should be able to stop inside the illuminated area ahead.”
Whenever possible after you have taken other precautions, get behind a blocker vehicle. A blocker vehicle is any vehicle you can follow that will hit any deer that come onto the road. In the picture below the vehicle, semi-truck in this case is in the far right lane. Any deer venturing on the road is going to be hit by the truck, and not by my vehicle. I have a clear view of the left side of the road giving me plenty of time to stop or swerve if need be.
Common sense rules the road when driving on roads known for having deer in the area. Requirements vary from location to location on signage. When you see a road sign notifying you there are deer in the area for the next xxx miles take heed. Deer warning signs are posted whenever a certain number of deer are hit or killed in a specified time.
I took this picture this morning. I took the picture through my car window. Deer can and will be anywhere.