WOODS CROSS – You drive around a bend in the road at dusk and your headlights hit a deer. You slam on the brakes, but it’s too late. You’ve hit the deer.
A new website watchfordeerutah.com put together by the Utah Department of Public Safety offers information to help drivers avoid this situation while driving on Utah’s highways.
In 2010, there were at least 2,800 vehicle-animal collisions on Utah roads, and possibly as many as 10,000, according to a Utah Department of Public Safety press release.
Vehicle-deer collisions are almost always fatal for the animal and can have serious consequences for the driver.
The website teaches drivers about a new concept of time, “deer thirty.” Deer thirty encompasses dusk and dawn, the times when deer are most active. When drivers are in known deer habitat or see a deer crossing sign, they should check the time and if it’s deer thirty С dusk or dawn С drivers need to heighten their awareness, reduce speed and watch for deer, the press release advises.
Slowing down is the most important thing drivers should do, because that helps them stop more quickly if necessary, according to the release. Drivers should also scan ahead and not “out-drive,” the area illuminated by the headlights. Should a driver encounter a deer, he or she should avoid swerving. Leaving the roadway is more dangerous than hitting the deer.
Deer travel together, so if drivers see one cross they road, they can expect to see others. Fawns and young deer typically cross after and apart from does. They are not able to easily jump over fences or obstacles, but have to look for ways to go under or around them, meaning they may cross several yards down the road.
Deer may be more active following storms and are often seen traveling down mountains and across roads in search of food.