There’s so much to think about when driving — surrounding cars, your speed, pedestrians and reckless drivers. It hardly seems fair that we have to worry about animals too; but it’s a danger we can’t ignore, especially this fall in the many hollers and winding roads of Bell, Harlan and Claiborne counties.
An estimated 1.3 million claims happened in the past year resulting from these types of collisions. There’s no easy way to keep large animals like deer or elk off highways and roads. Some drivers insist that deer whistles work, though the Information Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says no scientific evidence supports that claim. Studies and field tests show that roadside reflectors do reduce crash frequency somewhat, but as of now there’s no foolproof method to keep animals off our roads. So neighbors, it’s up to us to be on alert!
Tips that May Help
Stay alert. Pay attention to “deer crossing” signs. Scan down the road and off to each side. Be especially watchful in areas near woods and water. If you see one deer, there are probably several others nearby.
Be especially vigilant during peak season. Though collisions can happen any time of year, fall is peak time for deer-car crashes because it’s both hunting and mating seasons, forcing deer to roam outside their normal territory.
Use headlights smartly. At night, use high-beams when possible to illuminate the road’s edges. If you see a deer far ahead, flick the brights on and off multiple times. Deer tend to fixate on headlights, so flashing them may cause the animal to scurry away.
Watch out at mealtime. Pay particular attention between dusk and dawn, when these animals usually venture out to eat.
Brake as necessary. If you think you have time to avoid hitting the animal, reduce speed, tap the brakes to warn drivers behind you and sound your horn. If there’s no vehicle close behind you, brake hard.
Don’t swerve. If a collision seems inevitable, don’t veer off to avoid the animal. Your risk of injury may be greater if you do. Maintain control of the vehicle. Report the accident to the police and your insurance company.
Remember to always obey speed limits and wear seat belts. These laws are to protect you and the ones you love.
Neighbors, please watch for animals while driving and follow these helpful tips. I always like to close my column by sharing this truth that I live by: The key to having a successful life begins with being a good neighbor, building relationships based on honesty and trust, working hard to make a difference for your family and community and being thankful for all the blessings along the way.
Justin Mays is a local businessman who serves neighbors in Bell County, Harlan County and Claiborne County. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.