Watch Out for That Deer!

4 deer-involved crashes take place in hours

Drivers are being warned to watch out for deer after four crashes involving the animals in less than one day in the Washington area.

Experts said November is the worst month for deer crashes because the animals are in mating season and become a bit more daring.

All of the accidents occurred Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.

One crash occurred in the southbound lanes of Chain Bridge Road just past the CIA building. About a half-mile south, another accident involving a deer occurred on Chain Bridge Road. The third crash involving a deer occurred at Branch Avenue and Coventary Way in Clinton. The fourth crash took place in the northbound lanes of Interstate 270 at Democracy Boulevard in Rockville.

Drivers are urged to use caution, especially in the presence of a deer.

Driving and Safety Tips

October, November and December are peak months for vehicles to get involved in accidents with deer.

Motorists can help avoid dangerous encounters with deer by heeding the following tips:

  • Watch for deer, especially at dawn and dusk. They are most active then. In the spring, deer will move from cover to find food and then return to cover. Often they will feed along road rights-of-way, where grass turns green first.
  • If you see one deer, approach cautiously, as there may be more out of sight. Deer often travel single file, so if you see one cross a road, chances are more are nearby waiting to cross. When startled by an approaching vehicle, they can panic and dart out from any direction without warning.
  • When you see a deer on a roadway, flash your headlights from bright to dim and honk the horn to encourage it to move away from the road. Drive with lights on during overcast days and use high beams at night whenever possible. (Though headlights can confuse deer, the reflecting light from their eyes will help you to see them.) Warn drivers following you of the presence of deer by tapping on your brakes.
  • Be alert all year long, especially on two-lane roads. Watch for deer warning signs. They are placed at known deer-crossing areas and serve as a first alert that deer may be near.
  • If a deer runs into the roadway, try to slow down or brake without swerving. Losing control of your car and crashing into another car or a stationary object can be more dangerous than hitting the deer.
  • Slow down when traveling through deer-populated areas.
  • If you cannot avoid hitting a deer, slow down and grasp the steering wheel firmly with both hands. Take your foot off the brake at the time of impact so the front end of your vehicle will lift up and enable the deer to go under the car, rather than over it (reducing the danger of it crashing through the windshield or windows). 

For more information, visit, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Safety Research Center.

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