Be alert for deer along area roads

Eastern and Central Ohio are known for good deer hunting.

That’s bad news for drivers.

Deer crashes peak in October, November and December, so the time has arrived to be extra cautious.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol last year investigated 108 deer crashes in which six people were injured. The number dropped from 142 a year before.

The deer herd population in Ohio is estimated at more than 700,000. Just 20 years ago the number of deer in Ohio totaled about 150,000. There were nearly 219,000 deer harvested during last year’s hunting season, 9,400 of which were in Jefferson and Harrison counties. In fact, one out of every five deer killed during last year’s statewide hunting season was in the Interstate 70, U.S. Route 22 and U.S. Route 250 corridors.

West Virginia drivers rank near the top in states for motorists most likely to be involved in a deer crash.

Deer are beginning to get active with the approaching mating season and will be foraging for food for the winter months. Drivers need to be alert for deer, especially at dawn and after sunset, the highest risk times for deer-vehicle collisions.

Drive with extreme caution when traveling through deer-crossing zones, in areas known to have a large deer population and in areas where roads divide agricultural fields from wooded areas. Deer at this time of the year seldom run alone. Seeing one deer most likely means there are others nearby. If a deer crosses the road in front of your vehicle, chances are another will try to follow.

When driving at night, use high-beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic. High beams will better illuminate the eyes of deer standing on or near the roadway.

If a deer is seen on or near the road, slow down and blow your horn with one long blast to try to scare the deer away. Don’t swerve your vehicle to avoid striking a deer.

It is actually better to hit the deer while maintaining full control of the vehicle than attempting to swerve out of the way. The Ohio State Highway Patrol notes more people are injured in accidents because the driver tried to avoid the deer and ended up hitting another vehicle or going off the road into a ditch or a tree.

If you are involved in a deer crash, pull off to the side of the road and call the highway patrol or local police. Don’t approach the deer if it is still in the road.

The average deer crash costs about $3,000 for repairs to a vehicle, according to the insurance industry.

Be alert during deer season.