With the calendar flipping to November, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) wants Minnesota residents to be aware of its “Don’t Veer for Deer” campaign.
November and December are consistently the worst months for deer-vehicle collisions. While it may go against a driver’s better nature, hitting the brakes and staying in the lane the driver is in is the best and safest approach. Hitting a deer will cause damage, but swerving into oncoming traffic or swerving toward a ditch can have much more dire consequences than damaging the front end of a vehicle.
Wright County Sheriff Sean Deringer is no stranger to dealing with deer during this time of year. Deringer and his family made a drive to Fergus Falls last weekend and he saw eight or nine of the telltale signs of a vehicle taking down a deer – the typical blood stain on the roadway and/or a carcass laying on the shoulder – and those all had the appearance of happening within the previous 24 hours.
Deringer said three primary factors come into play each year as to why the number of crashes with deer take place from mid-October to mid-December. Last week alone, there were 13 reported crashes in Wright County involving deer and 10 in Sherburne County because two of the three factors are already in full swing – and the third will be in effect later this week.
“In the fall of the year, deer are in rut, so that has them on the move because bucks are kind of losing their minds and they’re chasing does,” Deringer said. “The influx right now is that you have farmers taking out their corn and all the cover crops that deer tend to congregate in, which also gets them moving. This weekend is the hunting opener, so that adds even more movement because you have people in the woods and that pushes them.”
The combination of these factors has deer moving at all times of the day instead of primarily at night, which is typically when deer and vehicles come in contact during the majority of the year. While nighttime is still the peak of when accidents occur (the peak periods being between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.), Deringer said drivers need to be alert at all times because deer can be in the middle of the road in a heartbeat.
“We see it too often where people swerve to miss a deer, go into the ditch, roll their car and other bad things happen,” Deringer said. “Speed is the big factor. Drive the speed limit and, at night, drive below the speed limit. At this time of year you have to be aware of the eyes in the ditch. Fortunately, God made animals with glowing eyes when headlights hit them. Just be aware of your surroundings, pay attention and slow down.”
To see statistics, data and safety tips provided by DPS, click here: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/deer-vehicle-safety/Pages/default.aspx