MADISON, WI --- Motorists need to watch for deer on roadways in coming weeks and take precautions to avoid collisions.
Although drivers typically think that deer crashes are a problem mainly in October and November, these crashes are common in June, as well. In four of the last five years in Wisconsin, June ranked as the worst or second worst month for motorists' injuries from deer crashes, said Dennis Hughes, chief of safety programs for the Wisconsin State Patrol Bureau of Transportation Safety.
During this time of year, deer frequently dart onto roadways. At times, they are looking for a place to give birth; other times, yearlings wander independently after separating from their mothers.
"From May through August, motor vehicle collisions with deer are more likely to occur between 8 p.m. and midnight, so you need to be particularly vigilant at night," Hughes said. "The best way to avoid a deer crash is to drive cautiously and stay within the speed limit. You also should be buckled up in case a crash can't be avoided. Motorcyclists must be especially careful because collisions with deer can be fatal to motorcycle drivers and passengers. Motorcycles were involved in 10 of the 14 fatal deer versus motor vehicle crashes in 2007."
Deer are the third most commonly struck object in Wisconsin traffic crashes (behind collisions with another vehicle or a fixed object). Law enforcement agencies reported a total of 17,977 deer vs. vehicle crashes last year. In Shawano and Green Lake counties, more than half of all reported crashes in 2007 involved deer. Dane County had the most motor vehicle vs. deer crashes reported in 2007 with 1,025. Shawano followed with 714 and Waukesha had 665.
Here are some tips for avoiding deer collisions:
-- Be vigilant in early morning and evening hours, the most active time for deer.
-- Drive cautiously at all times.
-- Heed deer crossing signs and speed limits.
-- Always wear your seat belt -- there are fewer and less severe injuries in vehicle vs. deer crashes when seat belts are worn.
-- If you see a deer by the side of the road, slow down and blow your horn with one long blast to frighten the deer away.
-- When you see one deer, look for another one -- deer seldom run alone.
-- If you find a deer looming in your headlights, don't expect the deer to move away. Headlights can confuse a deer and cause the animal to freeze.
-- Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path.
-- Do not swerve. It can confuse the deer as to where to run. It can also cause you to lose control and hit a tree or another car. The one exception is if you are riding a motorcycle. In this case, you should slow down, break firmly and then swerve if you need to in order to avoid hitting the deer. When swerving on a motorcycle, always try to stay within the lane, if at all possible, to avoid hitting other objects.
-- If your vehicle strikes a deer, stay in your vehicle and do not touch the animal if it is still alive. The injured deer, in attempting to move, could hurt you or itself. Walking or stopping on the highway is very dangerous - you could be hit by an oncoming vehicle if you get out of your car. The best advice is to get your car off the road if possible, and call law enforcement.