Watch Out for Deers

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MOTORISTS: WATCH OUT FOR DEER THIS FALL

            Another autumn is almost here, and accompanying the return of high school football and colorful foliage comes a hazard: an increase in deer-vehicle crashes. Most deer-related collisions occur in October, November, and December, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Erie County Engineer John Farschman says local crash records confirm this.

            In Erie County during 2015, 2016, and 2017 deer were involved in an average of 260 crashes per year. “Crash reports show there is a sharp rise in deer-vehicle crashes beginning in October and lasting through the end of December,” he stated. “Almost half of deer-related crashes happen during these three months.”

            The County Engineer’s Office encourages drivers to remain vigilant no matter what road they travel. “Looking at the data for the past three years, deer-related collisions can and do happen nearly everywhere in the county,” Farschman said. “Therefore, drivers should be aware of the seasonal deer hazard and exercise extra caution while driving this time of year.”

The Ohio Department of Public Safety, Ohio State Highway Patrol, and Ohio Department of Natural Resources offer precautionary measures and information for motorists:

  • Highest-risk periods are from sunset to midnight followed by the hours shortly before and after sunrise.
  • If you see one deer on or near a roadway, expect that others may follow.  Slow down and be alert.
  • After dark, use high-beams when there is no opposing traffic. The high beams will illuminate the eyes of deer on or near a roadway and provide greater motorist reaction time.  But don't rely solely on high-beams or deer whistles to deter such collisions.
  • Always wear a seat belt as required by state law and drive at a safe, sensible speed for conditions.
  • Don't swerve your vehicle to avoid striking a deer.  If a collision with a deer seems probable, then hit it while maintaining full control of your vehicle.  The alternative could be even worse.
  • Stay alert.  Deer are often unpredictable, especially when faced with glaring headlights, blowing horns and fast-moving vehicles.  They often dart out into traffic on busy highways in metropolitan areas.
  • Report any deer-vehicle collisions to a local law enforcement agency (such as the Ohio Highway Patrol or county sheriff) or a state wildlife officer within 24 hours. 
  • Under Ohio law, the driver of a vehicle that strikes and kills a deer may take possession of it by first obtaining a deer possession receipt.  These are available from law enforcement or state wildlife officers, and from local ODNR Division of Wildlife district offices.
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