Ever since my deer collision last year, I get a little weary behind the wheel around this time of year. I was fortunate enough to be the only vehicle on the road and walked away unharmed, but that’s not always the case for drivers. Here’s what to know if you find yourself dealing with a deer in the headlights.

During the fall and winter months, drivers see an influx of deer trying to cross busy roadways, and it is all thanks to deer mating season. Bucks are on the prowl for a mate and are willing to play Frogger with traffic, if necessary, which is bad news for SouthCoast drivers.

How to Properly Avoid Hitting a Deer

During my collision last year, I swerved out of the way, but it turns out that wasn’t the best option. Paul Pereira of A&M Driving School recommends a different approach if a deer darts out in front of your vehicle.

“Slam on the breaks and don’t let go,” he said. “And if possible, downshift into a lower gear.”

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He warns that the car may make some odd sounds, but that’s a sign of your Anti-Lock Braking System kicking into gear.

While swerving may seem like a good option, it could cost you.

“It’s dangerous and risky,” Pereira said. “Especially if there are other cars on the road or the deer decides to run in the direction you swerved. Your best bet is to hit the brakes."

What to Do If You Hit a Deer

Sometimes, no matter how hard you brake, a collision occurs.

“This time of year, the number of collisions certainly increase,” said Chief Carlton Abbott of the Freetown Police Department. “Pull over, assess the damage, and call 9-1-1.”

Chief Abbott said the paramount concern is always the condition of the driver.

“We have had collisions where deer go through windshields and caused substantial damage, so it’s important to call 9-1-1,” he said.

Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife during your morning commute for the next few weeks and resist the urge to crank the wheel in either direction. It could save your life.

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