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Autumn’s unique road hazard: It’s the time of year for deer

Deer that normally stay away from busy roads may dash into traffic, oblivious to cars during rutting season. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

WASHINGTON — Some hazards on the roads are specific to a season. In the winter, it’s snow. In the spring, it’s potholes. In the summer, it’s storms and street flooding. And in the fall, the threat of collisions with deer should be top of mind.

Collisions with deer are mostly likely in November, according to experts, and the cost of repairing the damage from those crashes continues to rise.

State Farm reports that the average deer crash claim for a Maryland driver is $4,341, up $200 from last year.

“October to December is when we see a lot of our accidents that are deer-related,” said Dwayne Redd, of State Farm. Nearly half each year’s crashes happen during those three months; November is the peak of deer mating season in the mid-Atlantic.

As days shorten and temperatures cool, male deer, or bucks, seek females and can dart into roadways.

“From dusk to dawn is when we see a lot of the times when those accidents occur.”

That’s when deer are most bullish and laser-focused on mating, and not necessarily on traffic.

Redd said it’s important to be fully aware of your surroundings this of the year, and to keep an eye on the wayside, especially on tree-lined roads and parkways.

“Scan the road; put your cellphone down, and if you do see a deer that comes across as you’re driving, don’t swerve.” Swerving, Redd said, can lead to a disastrous crash involving a tree, a pole or another vehicle.

If you are involved in a crash, pull over to the shoulder and call the police. Take photographs of the damage if you can do so safely. Police will assist in putting down the animal if it is wounded or deceased in the travel lanes.


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