The deer are out. Driv­ers, stay alert

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

It’s fi­nally start­ing to feel con­sis­tently fall-like here in South­ern Mary­land, and while the crisp au­tumn air is a fa­vorite for many, the sea­son also brings with it a hand­ful of down­sides, from mere nui­sances like rak­ing leaves to the more dan­ger­ous cons — like a sud­den in­flux of deer.

Ac­cord­ing to the Mary­land Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, deer breed­ing sea­son is in full swing now, which means deer, along with other wildlife, will be on the hunt for food sup­plies and mates.

“Deer ac­tiv­ity will peak dur­ing their breed­ing sea­sons, which oc­curs from mid-Oc­to­ber through Novem­ber,” DNR Wildlife and Her­itage Ser­vice Di­rec­tor Paul Peditto said in a press re­lease. “Deer of­ten travel with­out re­gard for roads or traf­fic dur­ing this time pe­riod. Mo­torists need to be es­pe­cially alert from sun­set to dawn as deer are more ac­tive dur­ing this time.”

The depart­ment asks driv­ers to be cau­tious dur­ing this haz­ardous driv­ing sea­son by slow­ing down if a deer crosses the road ahead. Be­cause deer are known to travel in groups, there may be oth­ers in the near vicin­ity. Pay at­ten­tion to the shoul­der of the road, as any deer stand­ing there may sud­denly en­ter the road­way. Slow down and lay on the horn to scare them away. Grad­u­ally brake to avoid hit­ting a deer, but don’t swerve. You don’t want to lose con­trol of the ve­hi­cle and cause an even more detri­men­tal ac­ci­dent.

Driv­ers should be par­tic­u­larly on alert for deer dur­ing their early morn­ing com­mutes and while driv­ing dur­ing the evening. If you come across a deer cross­ing sign, slow down and be on the look­out. Th­ese signs are posted in ar­eas of heav­ier deer ac­tiv­ity.

In ad­di­tion to th­ese safe driv­ing prac­tices, the Mary­land Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion rec­om­mends clean­ing car win­dows and en­sur­ing all ex­te­rior lights are op­er­a­tional to help driv­ers see an ap­proach­ing deer. Use high beams at night where pos­si­ble and when there is no on­com­ing traf­fic.

MDOT also ad­vises driv­ers to be aware of their sur­round­ings. Know that deer feed pri­mar­ily between sun­set and sun­rise usu­ally in for­est ar­eas or in ru­ral re­gions near wa­ter­sheds — in other words, in Charles County. Even in sub­ur­ban neigh­bor­hoods, deer can en­ter the road­way and cause an ac­ci­dent in a split-sec­ond.

Last Novem­ber, for­mer Calvert County Demo­cratic Cen­tral Com­mit­tee chair­man Clifton Savoy died af­ter his mo­tor­cy­cle col­lided with a deer on Route 4 just south of the Prince Fred­er­ick Town Cen­ter. This was a tragic ac­ci­dent, and it’s worth re­mind­ing driv­ers and mo­tor­cy­clists alike just how fast and un­avoid­able a hor­rific crash with a deer can be.

Let’s all help min­i­mize the num­ber of ac­ci­dents caused by deer. We urge ev­ery­one to stay on their guard while be­hind the wheel for the du­ra­tion of the fall rut — and beyond.

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