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Planning Your Summer Road Trip

How to Avoid Hitting a Deer - Summer Driving

Deer Crossing
Photo: iStockphoto

Growing up driving between Alberta and B.C., I heard a lot of great "almost hit a deer" stories from my relatives (except from my Aunt Linda, who actually hit a moose, but lived to tell about it). We're driving from Vancouver to Calgary for a family reunion at the end of the week and it occurred to me that now might be a good time for a refresher on how to avoid hitting deer on the highway.

Pay attention to road signs. The deer crossing signs are there for a reason! Be particularly vigilant in these areas and, if you have a passenger, make sure they're on alert as well.

Drive at a reasonable speed. Wildlife experts recommend a maximum of 90 kph in wildlife zones - travelling a little slower will make it easier to brake quickly and lessen the impact of any collision.

Be especially vigilant at dawn and dusk. Deer are particularly active during these periods, plus it's difficult for our eyes to adjust to the changing light at these times, so those deer have us at a disadvantage.

There's never just one deer. Deers travel in herds, so if you see one, slow right down; there are likely others lurking nearby.

Honk your horn. If you see a deer nearing the road, give a short blast on your horn. This may give them the hint they need to stay off the road.

Try not to swerve. Statistics show that most serious deer-related accidents occur when drivers swerve to avoid the deer and instead plow into a tree, the median or another vehicle. If you suddenly have a deer in front of your car, brake firmly but try to stay on course.

If you do hit a deer, pull over if you can. Turn on your hazard lights and train your headlights on the deer, if it's still on the road. Don't approach the deer - it may kick out at you. Call the police or flag down help.

Do you have deer avoidance tips to share? Leave them in the comments!

- Rose R.

Comments

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Ahmad M. Jamil

Always Keep your car's headlights on.
Deers can be scared by your car's headlights and can be kept away from coming in front of you. That is why some parts of the road have reflectors which throw car lights at a height to hit the deer's eyes.

David Robertson

Driving to Alberta from BC on July 30, 2013 there were 5 or 6 bighorn mountain sheep on the road: 1 ram with ewes following. All vehicles slowed down and stopped. Once all sheep had crossed the road we all started moving again. The best part ... about 200 metres down the road there were signs indicating bighorn sheep over the next few kilometres! Not all animals follow the signs.

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