November is peak month for deer-vehicle crashes
November is the peak time for deer-vehicle crashes in the state, so motorists should watch for them and drive cautiously, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
The main reason for the increase in vehicle crashes is that the deer mating season occurs in November. Increased deer movement coupled with a reduction in daylight hours increase drivers' chances of encountering deer on roadways.
Deer are more likely to be encountered in areas where habitat is close to the roadway, such as a bridge crossing over waterways, and during the early morning and evening hours when deer are most active.
From 2013 to 2015, there were 6,149 reported deer-vehicle crashes, according to the Department of Public Safety. There were 15 fatalities and 944 injuries. Crashes were reported in every county in the state.
So far this year, there have been four motorcycle crashes with deer, with five fatalities reported.
A deer collision report released annually by State Farm Insurance states that Minnesota ranks seventh among the 50 states in how likely motorists are to hit a deer. The company said that 1-in-74 motorists will hit a deer or other large animal this year, up from about 1-in-80 in 2016.
For those driving on Minnesota roadways, MnDOT offers these tips:
• Be particularly alert in the fall and spring. More than half of the crashes happen in late October and November when deer are mating, and in May and June during the birthing season.
• Be vigilant at dusk and at dawn. A high percentage of crashes occur during the low-light or dark hours of the day when deer move between daytime bedding sites and evening feeding areas.
• Slow down and scan the sides of the road and ditches for animals when driving through forested lands or near river and stream banks. Especially drive with caution in marked deer-crossing zones and along roads surrounded by farmland or forests as these are areas known for large deer populations.
• Drive defensively and expect the unexpected. If you see a deer near the road, slow down because it might dart in front of you. If you see one deer, look for the next one. Deer often travel together but single file.
• Don't swerve. While it may seem like the right thing to do, swerving to avoid a deer could cause you to lose control or travel into the path of another vehicle. Striking a deer is safer than colliding with another vehicle or a tree. Stay in your lane, brake firmly and hold onto the steering wheel.
• Motorcyclists should avoid night and low-light riding times. A rider's best response when encountering a deer is to use both brakes for maximum braking and to keep their eyes and head up to improve chances of keeping the bike up. Riders should wear full face helmets and full protective gear.