Motorist precautions for deer activity

Per the R.I. Department of Environmental Management
Wed, 10/02/2019 - 4:00pm

The following information was sent to The Block Island Times by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management regarding motorist precautions for deer activity:

Motorists should be alert for deer crossing roadways, particularly at dawn and dusk. With shorter daylight hours, many drivers are on area roads during the dawn and dusk hours, when deer tend to be most active. Deer may dart out suddenly and often travel together, so motorists should watch for any other deer that may try to cross the road, following the first one. Motorists should slow down while driving at dawn and dusk, use high beams when possible, and always use seat belts, since most injuries occur to drivers who are not belted.

The best way to prevent a collision is to remain alert while driving. Some people report success blowing the horn in one long blast while other drivers report success with ‘deer whistles,’ although studies have not proven their effectiveness. Most drivers are simply not able to react in time to avoid hitting a darting deer, despite best efforts. Swerving suddenly to avoid the deer can result in a more severe accident, as drivers lose control by crashing into oncoming traffic or going off the road.  The best approach is to slow down at night in areas where deer are common; if a deer does suddenly appear, drivers should use controlled braking to avoid or minimize a direct impact with the animal.  Deer struck head-on will succumb, but the driver and passengers might be saved from a more serious potential outcome.    

Anyone who strikes a deer should exercise caution when approaching a deer that has been hit, as it may only be stunned, and a person could become seriously injured by a wounded animal’s attempt to escape. Any deer-vehicle collision should be reported to DEM's 24-hour dispatch office at 222-3070, as well as to local police and the driver's insurance company, within 24 hours. Though small consolation, the owner of the vehicle involved in the accident may choose to keep the deer with a permit from DEM. The owner may request a permit when calling the 24-hour dispatch office to report the accident.

Factors such as food supply can increase or reduce the number of strikes that take place because these factors may limit deer movement.  The movement of deer in search of food, particularly when they are crossing roadways, makes them vulnerable to auto collisions.   

—The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management