Motorists need to watch for deer on the roads

It’s the time of year to fear the deer.

June typically sees a spike in deer activity, as females search for places to give birth and yearlings deal with being separate from their mothers’ guidance for the first time, according the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

That makes them unpredictable. So the Wisconsin DOT advises that motorists stay extra-vigilant this coming month.

Especially if riding a motorcycle.

While crashes between deer and motor vehicles tend to peak in the fall, June has a higher rate of human injury. Motorcyclists, in particular, fare poorly when tangling with deer. Of the nine people who died in deer-related crashes in 2017, six were on motorcycles, WisDOT reports.

“The best advice to prevent deer crashes and protect yourself is to be alert, slow down, buckle up — and, if you’re motorcycling, always wear protective equipment,” said David Pabst, director of WisDOT’s Bureau of Transportation Safety.

Wisconsin had 20,482 deer/motor vehicle accidents reported in 2017, led by Dane County with 959. In five counties last year, more than half of all crashes involved deer: Green Lake, Kewaunee, Lafayette, Oconto and Shawano.

To avoid deer crashes and motorist injuries, the WisDOT suggests:

— While deer can appear at any time of day, they are most active in early morning and evening hours.

— Slow down, eliminate distractions and make sure all vehicle occupants are buckled up.

— If a deer shows up, slow down and blow the vehicle horn with one long blast to frighten it away.

If a collision with a deer seems unavoidable:

— Brake firmly. Stay in your lane. Avoid sudden swerving that can lead to loss of vehicle control and result in a more serious crash.

— The one exception is if operating a motorcycle — the advice here still is to slow down, brake firmly and try to stay in your lane, but swerve if necessary to avoid hitting the deer.

If you do hit a deer:

— Get your vehicle safely off the road if possible and call law enforcement. Be prepared to describe your specific location.

— Generally, it’s safest to stay inside the vehicle with the seat belt still on, WisDOT advises. Walking along a highway runs the risk of being struck by another vehicle.

— Don’t attempt to move an injured deer.

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