September 29, 2017
The sun was about to set on the suburbs Thursday night, and my son and I were out in the backyard playing a game of Horse.
We’d appropriated that game from its proper basketball usage into the world of soccer. Whatever. He won, so let’s forget about that and get to the point of this article.
Specifically, a trio of deer ran past us as we were playing. It was cool. That didn’t happen in our East Falls alley.
In any event, it reminded me that we have much to learn about our new environment, most notably when it comes to driving.
As in, those “deer crossing” signs along the roadways are for real, yo.
David Rippy told me about the inherent deer-on-roadway dangers when I’d interviewed him about his book “Captain of My Soul: Mastering a Destiny Altered” back in August. A one-car crash prompted by a deer in the road left him in a wheelchair for life.
He also noted that Pennsylvania "is one of the top three states" for deer-related car accidents, meaning many people face injuries as a result.
"It's not about me being deer-phobic, worried about getting into another accident," he said. "But something needs to be done."
Something marginally being done came in the form of a Thursday email from AAA Mid-Atlantic, which reinforced those dangers.
“Fall is officially here and AAA Mid-Atlantic is warning drivers to be more cautious on the roads,” it read. “Deer mating season is right around the corner and October, November and December are the worst months of the year for motor vehicle collisions with animals.”
So basically, what you’re telling me is that my car could crash into a deer looking for a little amorous action? Oh, great.
In any event, AAA offered some helpful tips for the season.
Maybe you’re in a similar situation, or need a refresher course to something that’s become rote by this time in your life.
Either way, here are the eight suggestions that jumped out as rather pertinent to a suburban newb.
Pay attention to road signs. Yellow, diamond-shaped signs with an image of a deer indicate areas with high levels of deer activity.
Keep your eyes moving back and forth. Continuously sweep your eyes across the road in front of you for signs of animals and movement. Animals may also be alongside the road, so make sure to look to the right and left, as well. While the most likely accident is you hitting an animal, on occasion they might also hit you by running into the side of your car.
Be especially attentive in early morning and evening hours. Many animals, especially deer, are most active from 5 to 8 a.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. – prime commuting times for many people.
Use high beams when there’s no oncoming traffic. You can spot animals sooner. Sometimes the light reflecting off their eyes will reveal their location.
Slow down, and watch for other deer to appear. Deer rarely travel alone, so if you see one, there are likely to be more nearby.
Slow down around curves. It’s harder to spot animals down the road when going around curves.
One long blast. A long blast on your horn may frighten animals away from your vehicle.
Use brakes if an impact is imminent. Don’t swerve. Instead, stay in your lane. Swerving away from animals can confuse them so they don’t know which way to run. It can also put you in the path of oncoming vehicles or cause you to crash into something like a lamppost or a tree.
In any event, this exercise in public-service announcing got me thinking about car-versus-deer collisions. Namely, I’d love to hear your tale if you've ever struck a deer with a car.
If enough of you do, I’ll put together a collection of the best stories. Y’all the best. Be safe out there.