State Warns Drivers To Be on Alert For Deer During Mating Season
The Department of Environmental Management (DEM), the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, and the Rhode Island State Police are advising motorists to be alert for deer, particularly at dawn and dusk. The deer mating season is currently underway and will continue through November and much of December. Deer tend to move around more frequently during this time, and November is typically the peak period for road kills.
With shorter daylight hours, many commuters are on area roads during the dawn and dusk hours, when deer tend to be most active, according to DEM. Many of those deer live and roam in suburban and urban areas.
Deer dart out suddenly and often travel together so motorists should watch for any other deer that may try to cross the road, following the first one. Officials caution that motorists should slow down while driving at dawn and dusk, use high beams when possible, and always use seat belts, since most injuries occur to drivers who are not belted.
DEM officials say the best way to prevent a collision is to remain alert while driving. Some people report success blowing the horn in one long blast while other drivers report success with ‘deer whistles,’ although studies have not proven their effectiveness. Most drivers are simply not able to react in time to avoid hitting a darting deer, despite best efforts. Swerving suddenly to avoid the deer can result in a more severe accident, as drivers lose control by crashing into oncoming traffic or going off the road.
The best approach is to slow down at night in areas where deer are common; if a deer does suddenly appear, drivers should use controlled braking to avoid or minimize a direct impact with the animal, DEM adds. Deer struck head-on will succumb, but the driver and passengers might be saved from a more serious potential outcome.
Anyone who strikes a deer should exercise caution when approaching a deer that has been hit, as it may only be stunned, and a person could become seriously injured by a wounded animal’s attempt to escape.
In accordance with state law, any deer-vehicle collision must be reported to DEM's 24-hour dispatch office at 222-3070, as well as to local police and the driver's insurance company. Though small consolation, the owner of the vehicle involved in the accident may choose to keep the deer with a permit from DEM. The owner may request a permit when calling the 24-hour dispatch office to report the accident.
DEM states that 1,075 accidents have been reported, to date, in Rhode Island this year, with high numbers reported in North Kingstown (93), Cumberland/Lincoln (77), South Kingstown (72), Smithfield/North Smithfield (68), Warwick (64), Narragansett (40) and West Greenwich (38).