Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"Oh Deer."

“Please slow down, Deer.”

No, that comment is not directed towards the driver from his or her companion.

Deer are a hazard on all roads in the Washington Metropolitan area, but more especially in the fall. This is the Rut, or deer breeding season. Deer are very active and they tend to focus more on the next generation than on traffic safety!

The United States Park Police sees an increase in collisions with deer on all of our roadways. Clearly there are large numbers of deer on the Parkways outside of the city, but we see deer even in our downtown areas.

Some things to keep in mind while driving that can help prevent or mitigate deer collisions:

• Deer are especially active pre-dawn to mid-morning and dusk to early evening.

• Deer typically travel in herds. If you see one, likely more are around.

• Always drive the posted speed limit. This will give you more time to see deer in the roadway.

• Always wear your seat belt when in a vehicle. It is the law, but it clearly increases the survivability of any crash including those with deer.

• Watch for eye shine along roadsides. As you approach deer, often you will see the glimmer of their eyes.

• Be aware of posted “Deer Crossing” signs. These are placed in areas where many deer have typically been seen. No, the Police and wildlife management people have not trained the deer to cross in these areas, despite the jokes!

• Never swerve to avoid deer on the road. Our officers have seen instances where drivers have crashed into trees and ditches avoiding deer, resulting in injury.

If you strike a deer while driving on our roadways and need the assistance of the United States Park Police, please call us at (202) 610-7500.