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Safety Matters: Watch out for deer!

ERIE COUNTY — It’s that time of year again. October – December is the peak period for deer-vehicle collisions. The high incidence of deer-vehicle collisions corresponds to the peak of the annual deer breeding cycle, when the animals are more active and less cautious in their movements.

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, nearly two-thirds of these collisions happen during this three-month period, with most of the accidents’ occurring between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 and 6:30 p.m.

Deer are herd animals. They travel together. If you see one near or in the roadway, slow down and be prepared to stop, as there are probably others, nearby.

If deer are startled by the sounds or lights of a vehicle or other threat, they will bolt from the perceived danger, so be ready for erratic behavior.

At night, and at times of limited visibility, when there is no other traffic, drive with your high beams on, as this will illuminate the eyes of deer approaching or those already in the roadway.

When you are driving at a normal speed, if you come upon a deer in the road, do not swerve to avoid striking it.

Reactive, evasive movements can result in a loss of vehicle control. It is generally better to hit the deer than to run into an oncoming vehicle or a fixed object, like a tree.

New York State Environmental Conservation law allows motorists who hit and kill deer with their vehicles to keep the carcasses.

A special permit (car or deer tag) must be obtained from the investigating officer at the scene of the accident, before a carcass may be removed.

Car and deer crash facts

Approximately 1.5 million car versus deer crashes are reported nationally, each year, resulting in an average of 150 lives’ being lost.

Approximately $1.1 billion dollars’ of damage are reported annually.

The Insurance Institute estimated that the average claim for a car versus deer crash exceeds $2,600.

The NYSDEC has estimated a statewide deer population of approximately 1 million.

Due to the nature of car versus deer crashes, it is difficult to obtain a definitive total, but it is estimated that between 38,000 and 57,000 such incidents occur annually on New York’s roads, with a cost between $30 and $50 million.

In some New York counties, car versus deer incidents account for more than 20 percent of the reported crashes.

Please be safe.

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