AAA: Watch out for deer
BALTIMORE (WBFF)-- It's mating season for deer in Maryland and AAA Mid-Atlantic is warning motorists to be alert. The agency says peak breeding season occurs from November 10 to November 25, which is when most deer-vehicle collisions occur locally. The final phase runs from November 26 to December 9.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ 2016-2017 Maryland Annual Deer Report, estimates nearly 10,000 deer were killed by vehicles in Maryland in 2016.
Montgomery County led the state with 3,676 deer killed, followed by Howard County with 1,381 deer estimated killed and Baltimore County with an estimated 948 deer killed.
“A collision with a deer, or other animal, can put a serious dent in a vehicle, if not destroy it completely,” said Ragina Cooper Averella, Government and Public Affairs Manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Tragically, the true cost goes far beyond vehicle damage. Each year, motorists are injured, and sometimes killed, in these crashes.
AAA Mid-Atlantic is urging motorists to be particularly cautious during the morning and evening commute, which tends to coincide with increased deer activity. The end of daylight saving time is adding to the challenge to avoid deer and other animals, as many drivers now encounter a darker commute home.
Also, be alert when driving near wooded areas along local roadways. “Most animal-vehicle collisions occur on two-lane roads bordered by natural habitat,” commented Averella.
AAA Mid-Atlantic offers the following tips to help avoid potentially deadly and costly accidents involving all kinds of animals:
• Scan the road and shoulders ahead of you. Looking ahead helps provide enough reaction time if an animal is spotted.
• Deer seldom travel alone, so when there is one, there are usually more in the area. Bears tend to travel solo except for a mother and her cubs.
• Use high beam headlights if there’s no oncoming traffic. Wildlife may be spotted sooner when using high beams. This will give the driver time to slow down, move over or honk the horn to scare the animal away. High beams also help in spotting some animals’ reflective eyes.
• Be extra cautious at dawn and dusk. Most animals, especially deer, tend to be more active early in the morning and at dusk. Deer can also be spotted at night as late as midnight.
• Slow down and use extra caution when traveling through areas with a high and active wildlife population. Be aware of increased wildlife movement in some regions during certain times of year such as hunting or mating season. Also, be observant in areas where roads divide agricultural fields from forestland.
• Don’t swerve. Many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid hitting wildlife and hit another vehicle or lose control of their cars.
• If a collision is unavoidable, apply the brakes firmly and remain in your lane
• Drivers should always wear a seat belt and remain awake, alert and sober.
• Do not try to move the animal. An injured animal might panic and seriously injure someone. Call police or animal control for assistance.
“The chances of hitting a deer and the odds of having a run-in with other wildlife are particularly high during certain times of the year. If you hit an animal, including deer, be sure to take photos and contact your insurance company as soon as possible,” advised Brooks Eure, a manager with AAA Insurance. “Then there is the question of animal loss claims, which can be confusing to consumers. For example, if your vehicle hits a deer standing in the road, you might think that because the animal is stationary, the claim or loss falls under collision coverage. Actually, because the deer had the ability to move, the crash would be a comprehensive loss.”
Not only do motorists need to be on the lookout for deer, but black bears as well, particularly in Western Maryland. While summer is the breeding season for bears, they are foraging for food now before they typically den in late November through December, pending on weather, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Black bears can be found primarily in Garrett, Allegany, Washington and Frederick counties with the highest populations in Garrett and Allegany. However, bears have been reported in the Baltimore metro area, although most sightings tend to occur in late spring.
AAA Mid-Atlantic also advises motorists to make sure their auto insurance policy covers animal strikes. CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA insurer, reported that in 2017 animal-vehicle claims averaged just shy of $4,000.