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Another Driving Risk to Watch For, Especially Now: Deer

As we have noted in past blog posts, there are a number of factors at work that make driving in many parts of Maryland difficult for motorists, including road congestion, deficient bridges and potholes, as well as aggressive and inattentive drivers. Here's another one that most drivers are not readily alert to: deer.

State traffic officials want drivers to put that added potential danger squarely on their radar screens, especially now, during deer mating season.

Car accidents resulting from vehicle collisions with deer are far more frequent and serious than motorists typically think. The numbers speak for themselves: According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, about 1.6 million deer-vehicle crashes occur each year in the United States. With an average repair cost of $3,000 for each vehicle involved in a collision with a deer, that equates cumulatively to a staggering figure of more than $3.6 billion in damage annually.

Maryland drivers are certainly not spared from their share of risk. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources states that there are about 225,000 deer in the state. In 2008, there were 1,500-plus animal-related crashes in Maryland, many of them involving deer.

According to the experts, here's how to decrease your chance as a driver of becoming a statistic:

  • Be especially vigilant around dawn and dusk, when deer most frequently venture about
  • Wear your belt and keep the speed under control to increase reaction time
  • Scare deer away with the horn, not the headlights, which often makes them bolt or freeze
  • Where there is one deer, there are probably others nearby
  • Brake, don't swerve

And, finally, don't approach a deer if you hit one. Call animal control or the police.

Related Resource: www.delmarvanow.com "Oh deer: Drive with caution during mating season" November 5, 2010

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