With deer becoming more active along roadsides in the fall, just as they do in the spring, the New York Thruway Authority and State Police have issued an “antler alert” reminding motorists of the dangers the animals pose on roadways.
Last year was one of the safest in Thruway history because of deer-crossing warning signs that were installed at locations that have histories of higher-than-average accidents involving motor vehicles and deer.
There were 2,053 such incidents reported in 2012. This year is on track to be even safer, with only 965 incidents reported through August, officials said.
With most deer-vehicle accidents on the Thruway occurring in May and June and again in October and November, Thruway Authority officials stressed that motorists need to be extremely attentive whenever they see deer-crossing warning signs.
If an accident occurs, motorists are urged to make every effort to drive their vehicles as far off the highway as possible, parking on the right shoulder if possible and activating four-way hazard flashers. Motorist must also remain with their vehicles until help arrives. Motorists can report deer incidents on the Thruway either by calling 911 or the Thruway Authority’s emergency number, (800) 842-2233.
With deer most active at dawn and dusk, motorists are urged to scan shoulders of the road for the eyes of deer reflecting lights from vehicles and to remember that if one deer is crossing the road, others may be about to cross, moving fast to catch up with the first one.
Motorists are advised not to rely on high beams or horns to try to scare deer, and to increase the distance from other vehicles in order to reduce the chances of becoming involved in a chain-reaction crash if the car ahead hits a deer.
Officials also stressed that deer often frequent wood lots, fence rows, field edges or areas near water and that extra caution should be used when the roadway is near such areas.
Emphasizing that vehicle occupants should buckle seat belts because ejections from vehicles are a major cause of fatalities in any accident, officials said that if impact is unavoidable, drivers should hold on to the steering wheel and not swerve to try to avoid hitting a deer.
They stressed that most serious vehicle-deer accidents take place when motorists swerve and end up striking another vehicle or a tree or causing a rollover.
Motorists involved in a deer accident should not approach or touch a stricken deer, but should instead wait in the vehicle until help arrives, officials said.