It happens to hundreds of Arkansas drivers every year – a collision with a deer.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission advises drivers to (1) be on the lookout for deer along roads, especially after dark, (2) if a deer appears in front of your vehicle, do not swerve, and (3) when you see one deer, more are likely close by.
So, what can you do to stay safe during peak deer times?
If you are driving through an area with deer, and this means most of Arkansas, slow down. Leave a few minutes early if you are driving after dark.
Always wear a seatbelt. It’s the law, and most severe injuries in deer-vehicle collisions result from failure to use a seatbelt.
Watch for the shine of eyes along the roadside and immediately begin to slow down.
Use your high beams whenever the road is free of oncoming traffic. This will increase your visibility and give you more time to react.
Pay attention to caution signs indicating deer or other large animals. These signs are specifically placed in high-traffic areas where road crossings are frequent.
If you’re on a multi-lane road, drive in the center lane to give as much space to grazing deer as possible.
Never swerve to avoid a deer in the road. Swerving can confuse the deer on where to run. Swerving can also cause a head-on collision with oncoming vehicles, take you off the roadway into a tree or a ditch, and greatly increase the chances of serious injuries.
Deer are unpredictable, and one that is standing by the side of the road may suddenly leap into the roadway without warning. If one does move into your path, maintain control and do your best to brake and give the deer time to get out of your way.
Don’t rely on hood whistles or other devices designed to scare off deer. These have not been proven to work.
If you do collide with a deer or other large animal, call emergency services at once if injuries are involved, or local law enforcement if no one is injured but damage has been caused to your vehicle. Never touch an animal that is in the roadway. Give the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission a call at 800-482-9262 to report the road kill. Report the incident to your insurance company as soon as possible.
Dawn and dusk are the times you are most likely to find deer along roadsides.
Deer breeding season runs from October through December, and during this time they are highly active and on the move. This is when deer-vehicle collisions are at their peak.
Though deer may wander into city neighborhoods, they are most frequently found on the outskirts of towns and in wooded rural areas.
Deer almost never travel alone. If you see one deer, others are probably nearby.
A frequent question to the Game and Fish Commission is, “If I hit and kill a deer on a road, can I keep the deer for meat”? The answer is yes, and it does not count on a hunter’s season limit.