Be alert to early-rising wildlife on the roads

Most Ohio voters (in fact, we hope ALL registered voters who have not already cast ballots) will head to their polling places today. Many will do so before or after work — maybe not quite dawn for those early risers, but certainly dusk and thereafter for plenty of people.

We all know who else is headed for the roads at dawn and dusk this time of year: deer.

According to Ohio officials, November is the peak season for deer/vehicle collisions. The same factors that send deer hunters into the woods at this time of year also have deer moving near (and across) roadways. Last November, there were 3,800 deer/vehicle collisions reported on Ohio roadways. They bolt across the roads in an unpredictable manner, and sometimes seem to have materialized out of nowhere.

There is a lot to be said for keeping an eye out for wildlife, scanning as you drive, avoiding other distractions, etc. But most of us know there is sometimes nothing that can be done to prepare for a deer that has decided it must cross the road RIGHT NOW.

At that point, State Highway Patrol Superintendent Richard Fambro suggests drivers try to slow down, but not swerve. If a collision does take place, pull over to a safe place, turn on your hazard lights, and report the accident. Of course, insurance companies are quick to remind that deer collision damage is optional coverage for many of them; and now may be a good time to check on your own policy.

Insurance coverage or not, deer collisions can be dangerous. There is a reasons folks joke that “Watch for deer” is Appalachian for “I love you.”

Keep your eyes open, and stay safe out there.