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Deer caught in the headlights? Here’s what you shouldn’t do

Published November 1, 2012


The OPP have put out an advisory regarding the increase in the number of deer/vehicle collisions. In the last few weeks, officers with the Caledon OPP detachment have investigated several collisions involving deer.

In fall, deer tend to be more migratory as they move to their winter feeding grounds and search for a mate. With an increasing population of coyotes, deer are even more active as they try to avoid wild coyotes. The deer are more active around dawn and near sunset. If you are driving at this time of day, it makes sense to stay alert and to slow down in rural areas.

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Experts always advise that if you have a close encounter with an animal while driving, do not attempt to swerve around the animal. Many motorists have lost their lives or been seriously injured trying to avoid a collision with an animal. No matter how cute that critter may seem, it is not worth risking your life to try to miss hitting the animal. Unless you have taken advanced driver training and you are confident about your collision avoidance skills, it is always better to hit the animal and reduce your chances of injury or death.

Here are some suggestions from the OPP advisory:

• Turn your lights on for better visibility especially during dawn and dusk.

• Pay attention to the road, especially in areas inhabited by deer.

• Don’t be distracted by talking on a cell phone, changing the radio station, drinking or eating.

• Keep your head up, visually scanning the road well in front of your motor vehicle.

• If a deer crosses the road in front of you, slow down and assume that there are more following, as deer tend to travel together.

• If you have to hit a deer, don’t swerve. It’s better to hit the deer than to hit another motor vehicle or a hydro pole.

• Most importantly, SLOW DOWN. If you’re going too fast, you won’t have time to react if confronted with a deer on the road.

Collisions with deer can cause severe damage to vehicles and injury or even death to the occupants. However, the experts say your chances of surviving are better if you hit the deer rather than trying to swerve and avoid.

One of the more important tips is to slow down. The difference between driving at 90 km/h and 80 km/h when it comes to stopping distances and the amount of force at impact is significant. Braking distances increase as a square of speed. In other words, if you double your speed, your braking distances quadruple. Therefore, an increase in speed by just 10 km/h can make a huge difference in braking distance and control as well as the amount of damage to the vehicle. Driving around 100 km/h instead of 80 may be an increase in speed of about 20 per cent to 25 per cent but the resulting braking distance will be approximately 40 per cent to 50 per cent longer with a corresponding increase in damage to the vehicle.

Play it smart and follow the OPP’s advice.

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