The fall season is back and with it comes the peak season for deer-related vehicle crashes, which means area drivers should use extra caution to avoid colliding with the increased number of deer expected on local roadways.
"They can pop up just about anywhere along the roads-out of corn fields and meadows, even near housing developments," said Trooper Tim Gossett with the Ohio Highway Patrol's Marietta post.
He said this is the advent of deer hunting season as well as mating season for the animals, so deer seem to be constantly on the move.
"They're usually moving more in the early morning and early evening hours, when we see a lot of accidents," Gossett said. "Drivers should be extra cautious during those hours, watch their speed and slow down."
About 20 percent of deer-related crashes occur in early morning, while more than half occur between 5 p.m. and midnight, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation.
Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks said so far this year his office has not handled a lot of deer-vehicle crashes, but the season is just getting underway.
Tips to avoid deer collisions
- Watch for deer crossing signs and drive with extreme caution, especially in the posted areas.
- If you see one deer near the road, expect that others will follow.
- Watch for deer especially at dawn and after sunset.
- Always wear seat belts and drive at safe, sensible speeds for road conditions.
- If a vehicle strikes a deer, motorists should report the crash by calling local law enforcement, the sheriff's department, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, or the Ohio Department of Natural Resources-even if there is no damage to the motorist's vehicle.
Source: Ohio Department of Transportation
"There are certain areas on area roadways where drivers should pay special attention," he said. "Those locations are clearly marked with deer crossing signs."
Ohio Lieutenant Governor and Insurance Director Mary Taylor echoed the warning for drivers to use additional care on highways during morning and early evening hours to avoid deer-related accidents that can also result in costly vehicle repairs.
She said some Ohioans may not be aware that the collision portion of an insurance policy's physical damage coverage does not include deer-vehicle collisions. Damage to a vehicle from such a collision would not be covered for consumers who only have a liability vehicle policy.
Besides slowing down and being extra cautious there's not more a driver can do to avoid deer crashes, although there are some vehicle-mounted devices that may help.
Renee Masters, an associate with the Tractor Supply Company store in Marietta's Frontier Center, said a product called "Deer Warning" can be installed on a car or truck.
"They come in packs of two and are electronic or air-activated sensors mounted on the front bumper area that emit a constant very high-pitched sound," she said. "Humans cannot hear it, but the deer can. The sensors have been tested and proven to work in many cases, but there's no guarantee it will prevent a crash."
Masters said the devices sell for less than $10 and are easy to install.