For many people, the fall marks a favorite time of the year. When the weather starts to cool, leaves start to fall and the sounds of football can be heard on weekends throughout Nebraska. For hunters, however, fall means deer season! In Nebraska, depending on the type of hunting you prefer, deer season can run anywhere from September 1st to December 31. The change in seasons also means that your chances of hitting a deer with your vehicle rise dramatically. So we’re giving you a few tips on how to avoid collisions with deer and what to do if you do hit one. Let’s go!
This may seem counterintuitive, but swerving to avoid a deer may actually lead to more vehicle damage or a worse collision. Whether it’s a rollover into a ditch on a rural road or swerving into oncoming traffic on a busy thoroughfare, it’s better to just take the hit.
The Eustis Body Shop team agrees: “Modern cars are designed to take the impact and we are equipped to fix the vehicle correctly. By swerving you may cause undercarriage damage, go into a ditch, hit a side rail, or worse – hit another vehicle.”
BE ESPECIALLY CAUTIOUS AT DAWN AND DUSK
As a part of their biology, deer are most active when the sun is coming up and going down. Because of the changes in light, dusk and dawn are already challenging for drivers. But in the fall, drivers should pay extra attention, especially on rural roads.
PAY ATTENTION TO THE SIGNS
States post deer crossing signs based on information like travel patterns of deer, number of accidents, and deer sightings. While some lawmakers worry that signs are not an effective warning to motorists, it is still the best and most cost-effective method going. To put it simply, deer crossing signs are posted for a reason, and it is a good idea to pay attention when you see one.
LOOK OUT FOR GROUPS
Deers typically travel in groups so if you see one deer, it’s likely that there are others nearby. If you do spot a deer near the road, take special care, slow down or even stop your vehicle, if possible. Taking a few extra minutes to make sure the deer are clear of the road could save you time and money in the future.
This is not only good advice during deer season but good driving advice overall. Distractions like cell phones, radios, and even noisy passengers can cause you to lose focus on the road. Even these few distracted seconds can mean the difference between an accident and a near miss. Deer season or not, reducing distractions while driving is always a good idea.
TAKE CARE AT NIGHT
Nighttime driving is already challenging, but taking extra care (especially on rural or back roads) may keep you out of trouble. Slowing down, using your brights when possible, and staying distraction-free can keep you safe while driving when the sun is down.
WHAT IF I HIT A DEER?
If you hit a deer, pull over, turn on your hazard lights and report the accident immediately. If the deer is still alive, do not attempt to move or help it, as it may injure itself further or could injure you. A side note: if the deer is dead, you may keep the animal, but you must call a Nebraska Game and Parks Conservation Officer within 24 hours of the accident to obtain a salvage license.