I was just wondering from fellow POI Factory members who live in states that have a lot of deer (New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia) if there are any known tricks in avoiding hitting a deer on the interstate in the evening/night.
I know the obvious – drive between sunrise & sunset but when you don't have a choice is there anything that can be done to decrease the odds ?
What I do is follow a trucker closely because I think that if a deer does come out you have to be pretty unlucky that it comes out between you and the truck your following !
Therefore all you experienced mountain guys and gals out there, how do you drive in the evening/night & what exactly would you suggest ?
Deer are completely unpredictable. They don't follow the "Deer Crossing" signs. It can happen so fast you can't react. If you see one deer there could be another, or several. They don't walk and run. They spring and leap from one point to another very fast.
Just follow good practice for driving in general. Seat belts on. Don't drive tired. In any accident get off the road. Hitting the deer will not hurt you. An unanticipated danger in an accident is "secondary collision."
On a road close to me a man hit a deer. The deer landed on the hood, came through the windshield and killed either the passenger or driver, can't remember which one.
So, hitting a deer can hurt you.
Living on farm land in New Mexico and driving across deserted areas of wildlife I had my share of run inns with deer. On my personal truck I have plastic deer whistles mounted on my trucks bumper. I dont know how well they work but its been two years with no incidents.
On my work truck (I work nights). If I'm on the main highway or interstate I slow my speed down. I'm might have a speed limit of 75 but driving 65 alone on the road is plenty fast and gives me time to slow down and maneuver the vehicle as needed.
When spotting a deer or antelope I slow my speed and turn my high beams off. The high beams seem to confuse these animals and they jump in front of your vehicle. Keeping your headlight on without high beams keeps them from going nuts.
Best advice, slowdown, turn off your brights when you spot animals and always expected the unexpected especially at night. (keep your eyes moving).
The windshield is tremendously strong because it is made of laminated glass, unlike the other car windows. If the accident was violent enough for the deer to come through the windshield the airbags should have operated. In such an accident the seatbelts can make the difference between life and death. When the airbags operate they alone can easily kill any unbelted occupant. The seatbelt keeps you away from the airbag.
My point is, whenever you are driving you should be ready for an accident - seatbelts on.
I have heard to avoid the urge to swerve, because swerving too often leads to rollover. Just stomp on the brakes, going straight ahead.
I don't know how good or true this is.
You are correct. Panic swerving might be far more serious than hitting the deer. One needs skill in swerving at high speed and then correcting the counter-swerve BEFORE it happens.
Single-vehicle rollover accidents kill more people than almost any other single cause. This is particularly significant because a roll-over accident is the most survivable crash one can be in. Impacts are dissipated over much greater time periods. The problem is that an unbelted driver gets ejected out the side window and crushed by their own vehicle after about the second rollover. (A vehicle can roll over completely about four times in the time it takes an average human being to even THINK about bracing themselves.)
In deer country, it is important to protect your night vision. This means dimming displays or even turning off GPS units when not needed. Turn your headlights on at night, and do NOT use fog lights unless it is foggy or snowing.
Some drivers use fog lights at night as "ditch lights', thinking they will help spot a deer in the ditch. The problem is that if you can see a deer in your fog lights it is either too late, or your fog lights are mis-aimed. (They are NOT driving lights.) Use of fog lights in clear conditions lights up the road directly in front and this reduces your night vision and hence your ability to spot a deer at a greater distance.
A cure for the common cold will happen before a technique to avoid deer collisions works.
I used to work at a place in upstate NY, and I noticed that the front ends of many cars in the parking lot were damaged. Many cars. I wondered out loud one day and I was told that the deer population was great, it was a matter of when, not if, you would hit a deer.
Deer don't seen to get it. They don't learn. They are by far the the most common roadkill.
Be alert is the best thing you can probably do. The deer seem to be active 24 hours a day.
Faced with a long daily commute on a mix of back roads and interstates, I put in many nighttime hours behind the wheel. In the 30+ years I commuted, I hit more than my fair share of deer. I tried the whistles, following others when possible even going slowly, all with little effect.
Although not perfect, I had the best results using dimmed dash lights and very bright headlights. I also added bright driving lights which increased contrast making the animals easier to spot. The bright lights also had the effect of "freezing" deer in their tracks until I was safely past.
In the early hours I traveled, traffic was sparse and using bright light was possible. I realize it is less effective on busy roads.
During extremely high risk times of the year during rutting season, I would commute with my plow truck which eliminated the problem completely. The few I hit caused no damage to the truck, only to the deer. Unfortunately, this was costly due to gas prices and not practical to do all year.
Other commuters I know installed heavy duty grille guards on their SUV's or pickups which was also effective.
I'm now retired and avoid driving during "high risk" times whenever possible.
I agree with the people suggesting lower travel speed. This both gives you slightly more time to react during engagements where avoidance is possible, and lowers the impact energy.
Wearing seatbelts is just common sense, and certainly relevant in this concern.
As with lower speed, using lights which put more brightness where the deer might appear increases detection range. But it takes a lot of extra light to get an little extra range. This situation is just like the classic radar range equation, with an inverse fourth power relation between outgoing light and returned light versus range. The outgoing light goes down in brightness as the square of the distance, as does the light coming back. So you would need light sixteen times brighter to get a factor of two greater detection distance. Lights enough brighter to make much difference from stock are probably not street-legal in most cases, though that does not stop some users.
This happened on a small back road with 60 mph limit in an old pickup. The pickup probaby didn't have air bags. The report was the deer went through the windshield and actually hit the man.
My Father in law was driving upstate NY in a Dodge minivan and the Deer hit him in the back passenger door. Smashed in the door and the deer's antlers got stuck in the window. He was also pushed a bit from the force.
So sometime you may hit the deer or the deer can hit you!
Just have to be alert and careful. I believe you cant stop things like this.
If you think deer are dangerous to your car, try riding a motorcycle! Deer will not only run out in front of you, but will actually run into you, hitting from the side. The only thing you have on your side is staying alert, and at reasonable speed to be able to stop.
Avoid swerving. It's not worth going off the road or especially into the oncoming traffic to avoid a deer collision. It is far better to hit a deer than a tree, power pole or oncoming car. Deer will damage your car, but are not nearly as deadly as elk or moose, which are taller and will hit the passenger compartment.
Hitting the deer will not hurt you.
Until it goes through the windshield...
Sorry Dobs, that's just not true.
I've had good luck hitting the horn as soon as I see a deer. Not laying on the horn in a continuous tone but hitting it 4-5 times in short, irregular bursts. Seems to scare them back away from me.
also in day time be carful when a doe crosses the road being followed by fawns , they come out after she crossed the road safely.
My neighbor had just bought a brand new GMC Acadia (2 weeks old), when driving to Florida on I-64 in IL about 10:00 at night. Doing about 75, when a deer decided to cross I-64. &16,000 worth of damage to the Jimmy, and he still does not have it back. Been about 2 months. Problem is, it is so new, dealers cannot get parts. This dealer had to fabricate from scratch the headliner. Fortunately, they were not hurt, but he knows every airbag works, or did.
I have never hit a deer but one hit me.
I was travelling through upstate NY on a throughway at a sunny noon hour when out of the tall grass in the median up jumped a big buck and started to cross the road in front of me. I slammed on the brakes just missing him but right behind was a doe who ran into my left front fender. When I stopped I had to use my feet to open the door. I stopped at a hardware store in the next town and bought tin snips and cut away part of the fender rubbing against the tire when I hit a bump. It cost the insurance company $8300 to repaire for it was a Prius and the computer and other electronics had to be removed before they can weld or if not then add another $3400 for a new computer.
The auto insurance industry pays lots of money on deer-vehicle collisions, so naturally they have numbers. Here are some for the USA.
Somewhat over 1 million deer-vehicle collisions per year.
Around 200 human deaths per year in those collisions.
Not all the involved deer die, but hundreds of thousands do.
So the odds are rather a lot in the driver's favor, but far from a sure thing.
hit one ourselves, knock on wood. But witnessed that happening ahead of us while driving, and it looked crazy. Unpredictable is an understatement. SUV pulled over, deer went flying. I'm sure the people were fine, but startled...
Audi & Volvo are working on a large animal detection system for their vehicles which I see as being positive & certainly beneficial.
I realize that if a deer bolts out as your driving by at the exact same time, then unfortunately there's not much you can do.
If on the other hand this detection system warns you that some large animal is on your path or very close to it (on the shoulder of the highway) at least you have time to react and slow down.
I drive an SUV that has AWD along with 4 winter tires in the winter. I do not drive faster when it snows nor when there's freezing rain but firmly believe that I have an advantage over others with the AWD & tires.
I would use the exact same minding if I had the animal detection system in my vehicle, drive cautiously and always on the lookout for the unexpected.
I found the following YouTube video interesting and hope that one day this becomes reality and that in turn it makes our roads along with you & I a little safer
We drive in their neighborhood. Just have to watch out for when those deer attack!
never get in the way of a horny deer.
I put a whistle on my car grill to scare the away from the vehicle before it was too late.
We used to call those elephant whistles. It didn't help keep you from hitting a deer but it was almost guaranteed you'd never hit an elephant.
I heard those whistles really don't do much. I almost bought some. Wondering if there is another product that might be better?
Many years ago (before air bags), there was a deer on the Taconic State Parkway in NYS that flipped up onto a pick up truck and the hoof went through the windshield and speared the driver through the head. A very freak accident but I never forgot it. Must had been around the mid 80's. I always think of that went I see deer jumping out in front. I'd like to own the 60's James Bond car (Aston Martin DB5) with the guns ready up front (or something of that nature that would clear the way).
Living in a rural area, we encounter deer almost every time we're on the highway. It is amazing how well deer blend into the scrub growth and shrubs just off the road!
Several years ago, I hit a deer on the Coquihalla Highway (from the Discovery Channel series "Highway through Hell"). After the tow truck arrived and the driver had determined we were uninjured, he asked if I had a rifle in the car. As a mild-mannered Canadian, I was shocked and said I didn't own a gun!
The driver laughed and said "You never see deer when you've got a rifle!"
Might buy you a few fractions of a second to brake...
Or maybe I should say that humans are becoming more common in deer habitat. Where we live, deer seem to be more prevalent along the roads at this time of year, particularly as it begins to get dark and they come out of the seclusion of the trees.
One night on a rural 2-lane road, I saw the refection of my high-beams in the eyes of a pair about 50' off the side of the road. The bright light often causes them to freeze as poachers well know. Once they were in the shadow, they bolted for the road. Fortunately the one that hit me only knocked off the rubber molding on the driver's door and left a tuft of fur on my side view mirror. I stopped to retrieve the molding and watched the pair run into the woods.
My wife wasn't so lucky. She met hers head on. It did a lot of damage to the front end of her minivan, but once again, the deer scampered off into the woods. In her case, the deer was hidden from her view by a line of oncoming traffic on a 2-lane road. Once the last car passed, the deer bolted across the road right in front of her.
In both cases, we were lucky, but things could have been a lot worse if we had swerved and likely over-corrected. It is human nature to try to avoid a collision. Each time I find myself in that situation, I try to remind myself to just slow down and don't swerve.
As someone else suggested tap-tapping (not a long blast) on the horn can also be effective it convincing the deer to turn and flee rather than run in front.
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