The deer are out. Drivers, stay alert
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.