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How to avoid collisions with deer this hunting season

Fall isn't just the season for deer hunting; it's the season for deer-hitting, too. Traffic collisions with deer peak during October, November and December. These months coincide with the animals' mating season.

Drivers in Pennsylvania should be particularly cautious. In 2016, our state had the third-highest rate of collisions with deer nationwide, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It's not clear why.

You can change the odds

For the average Pennsylvania driver, your odds of hitting a deer are 1 in 67. But those odds depend on the circumstances. Your driving habits play a big role.

Deer are more active during mating season, which means you're likely to see more of them on the roads. Crashes happen most often just before dawn and after dusk. The diminished visibility – and increased likelihood that the animals are on the move – makes for a dangerous combination.

You can reduce your chances of an accident by avoiding the roads during these high-risk times, to the extent possible. You should also:

  • Slow down. Speeding increases your chances of an accident. Always maintain a reasonable speed for the conditions, and never overdrive your headlights.
  • Use your high beams. They can illuminate deer in the road at a much greater distance. Only use them when appropriate, however, and avoid blinding other drivers.
  • Don't tailgate. The more space you have for slowing down, the better.
  • Don't swerve. Hitting a stationary deer is better than slamming full-speed into oncoming traffic. Swerving can also cause rollovers in vehicles with high centers of gravity.

By following these tips, you can help ensure that you'll be the one killing deer this hunting season – not the other way around.

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