DMV, DEC Remind Drivers To Be Aware Of Deer

The state Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Environmental Conservation are reminding drivers to be aware that deer become more active and are more likely to enter public roads in the fall months.

Two-thirds of all collisions between deer and vehicles occur during October, November and December. This is the time when deer breed and when they travel the most.

“Motorists need to be aware that deer are more likely to be present on the roads at this time of year, and drivers should be especially alert as they travel,” said Terri Egan, Motor Vehicle Department executive deputy commissioner and acting chair of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee. “If a roadway is marked with deer-crossing signs, that means deer have been seen at that location and have collided with cars there. Drivers should exercise an abundance of caution in those areas.”

“Early fall is a peak time for wildlife activity in New York,” said Basil Seggos, state DEC commissioner. “I caution all motorists, even those in urban areas, to keep an eye out and be aware, particularly during these active fall months, that wildlife can cross their paths. The key is for drivers to be alert during dawn and dusk, drive slower, and not swerve if they encounter a deer.”

Deer are particularly active at dawn and dusk, times when traffic may be heavy and visibility may be reduced. The DEC recommends these precautions motorists can take to reduce the chance of hitting a deer:

¯ Decrease speed when approaching deer near road sides. Deer can “bolt” or change direction at the last minute.

¯ Those who see a deer go across the road should decrease speed and be careful. Deer travel in groups so expect other deer to follow.

¯ Use emergency lights or a headlight signal to warn other drivers when deer are seen on or near the road.

¯ Use caution on roads marked with deer crossing signs.

Those who encounter a deer on the road should brake firmly but do not swerve. Swerving can cause a collision with another vehicle, a tree, a pole, or other objects. Those who do hit a deer should stay away from the animal. A frightened, wounded deer could use its powerful legs and sharp hooves to harm people. Other tips include:

¯ Move the vehicle to a safe place. If possible, pull over to the side of the road and turn on hazard lights. Those who have to leave their vehicle should stay off the road and out of the way of any oncoming vehicles. Since deer are most active at dusk and dawn, people could be less visible to traffic too.

¯ Call the police. Alert authorities if the deer is blocking traffic and creating a threat for other drivers. If the collision results in injury, death or more than $1,000 in property damage, drivers must fill out an official report.

¯ Don’t assume a vehicle is safe to drive. Look for leaking fluid, loose parts, tire damage, broken lights, a hood that won’t latch and other safety hazards. If a vehicle seems unsafe in any way, call for a tow truck.