EXPLORING WITH HAPPY
“Over the river and through the woods to grandfather’s house we go.” Chances are if you are driving to grandpa’s house or another friend or relatives for Thanksgiving you’re taking a vehicle on a well-traveled road instead of by sleigh.
Some years ago, I was driving home from Tulsa on Thanksgiving night. A huge buck came from out of nowhere, decided at the last instant to jump the car I was driving and instead hit the windshield. Things didn’t turn out so well for the buck and it did about $3,500 worth of damage to the car.
During hunting season with dogs, hunters and campers on the move, the deer are really stirring. According to statistics from July 1, 2010 until June 30, 2011, there were approximately 1.09 million deer/vehicle collisions in the U. S.
Jerry Pitchford, Farm Bureau Agent in southeast Oklahoma, states that according to the Institute for Highway Safety “Deer/vehicle collisions cause an average of 150 fatalities a year and 1 billion dollars in damages.”
According to State Farm Agent John Hamilton and Jim Camoriano, State Farm, Media Relations, “The chance of hitting a deer in Oklahoma in the next 12 months is 1 in 274, with 8,500 collisions in the previous counting year. The national average is 1 in 193.”
Camoriano also says, “In Texas, your chance is 1 in 404, with 38,100 deer-vehicle collisions.” And, “While deer strikes are down in Arkansas, drivers in the state are still considered at high-risk for such an encounter. Your odds there are 1 in 122, which puts Arkansas at No. 14 in the country with about 17,000 deer/vehicle collisions for the year.”
To put those numbers into perspective, you’ve got about a 1 in 50,000 chance of winning a state lottery.
To lesson the risk of deer related accidents, State Farm lists these tips on how to reduce your chance of becoming the next headline resulting in a deer/vehicle collision.
- Be aware of posted deer crossing signs. These are placed in active deer crossing areas.
- Remember that deer are most active between 6 and 9 p.m.
- Use high beam headlamps as much as possible at night to illuminate the areas from which deer will enter roadways.
- Keep in mind that deer generally travel in herds – if you see one, there is a strong possibility others are nearby.
- Do not rely on car-mounted deer whistles.
- If a deer collision seems inevitable, attempting to swerve out of the way could cause you to lose control of your vehicle or place you in the path of an oncoming vehicle.
My advice is while doing your holiday traveling, drive a little slower and enjoy the scenery this time of year. Seeing deer on the side of the road can be exciting and beautiful. Ending up with one through your windshield could be tragic. Think about this, if you are driving 65 miles an hour, hit a deer and your airbag goes off, then what?
Slowing down a little will increase reaction time and give you time to scan your surroundings while you drive. You may be in a hurry to get to the turkey and dressing, but hitting a deer is going to put you a lot further behind and probably ruin your appetite.
Lieutenant Sheridan O’Neal with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol says, “If you do hit a deer, pull as far over onto the shoulder as you can get. Put your flashers on and call the state’s Highway Emergency assistance number.” The Oklahoma and Arkansas emergency number is *55, and for Texas it’s 911. He also says “Tell the dispatcher your circumstances and ask him or her to advise you.”
There are obvious hazards to exiting your vehicle, one being that you can get hit by another vehicle. There are also risks in leaving the animal in the road in case another vehicle swerves to miss the animal, resulting in an accident and possibly crashing into you. O’Neal says that there are many different scenarios and by calling your state’s emergency assistance number, they can advise you on what to do in your specific situation.