Avoid deer, even if you can’t move to Hawaii
Iattended college in upstate New York, where I was part of a winning team of a “Jeopardy”-like trivia competition called College Bowl.
Some friends and
I put together a team of four, but our last member never showed up.
He went home for some hunting the day before but didn’t so much as spot a deer. He was on his way home the morning of the competition when his pickup truck slammed into an impressive buck.
His truck was badly damaged, but he still proudly strapped his kill to his hood and limped his pickup home.
Motorists and struggling deer hunters alike should keep that lesson in mind this time of year.
During October, November and December, deer go into heat and start getting frisky. Their raging hormones make them bolder, leaving them more likely to dart in front of your car in hopes of finding their soul mate on the other side of the road.
A survey released by State Farm this year determined that 1 in 63 Pennsylvania drivers hit a deer last year. That rate ranked third in the country behind West Virginia (1 in 46) and Montana (1 in 57).
Those findings suggest that Pennsylvania leads the country in the total number of car accidents involving deer.
Although the survey didn’t release any raw numbers, the three states with higher populations — California, Florida and New York — didn’t come anywhere close to our accident rate. West Virginia and Montana don’t have populations anywhere near Pennsylvania’s.
That leaves Pennsylvania as the nation’s leading producer of deer road kill. What a time to be alive.
By that logic, the safest and most extreme thing you can do to avoid hitting a deer is move to Hawaii. I’m sure most of my readers were looking for an excuse to make the move, so here it is:
The State Farm survey found drivers in the Aloha State have a 1 in 6,379 chance of hitting a deer with their car. That means you’re 100 times more likely to hit a deer with your car in Pennsylvania than in Hawaii.
For comparison’s sake, fans of the classic “Star Wars” film “The Empire Strikes Back” may recall the odds of successfully navigating an asteroid field are approximately 3,720 to 1. Han Solo couldn’t hit a deer in Hawaii if he tried.
The average animal collision causes about $2,730 worth of damage, so insurance companies have a vested interest in helping you avoid any ungulates.
Not surprisingly, the insurance industry offers tips on best practices for avoiding these accidents. They’re a little more practical than moving to Hawaii, so they should be of more use to you.
According to State Farm, the best thing you can do is to remain alert and attentive to the road, particularly at dawn and dusk when deer are most active.
You should never let food or a mobile device take your attention away from the road, but dusk in deer season is a particularly awful time to start.
That goes especially for drivers in rural areas, who are more likely to encounter deer than people in urban settings.
If you see one deer, slow down and look for more. Deer tend to travel in small herds, so if you come across one, expect to find others. Turn on your high beams for better visibility, but don’t to blind oncoming drivers.
Some urban legends suggest you speed up before hitting a deer. That’s a bad idea, but there is a certain logic to it.
Hitting the brakes lowers the hood of your car, turning it into a launching ramp for the soon to be deer carcass. The problem is it increases the force of the collision, making for a dangerous, gruesome exercise in physics.
Instead, if you can’t avoid hitting the deer, hit the brakes but release the pedal right before impact. That should reduce the force of the crash but lets your grille serve as a protective barrier.
I’ve not found any insurance companies that recommend people use deer whistles, devices that attach to your car and create an ultrasonic sound that’s supposed to startle deer. Some people swear by them, but studies are inconclusive that the whistles do anything. Some insurance companies like GEICO advise against them, likely under the fear that the whistles will give motorists a false sense of security.
— Mark Minetola, Salisbury Township
A: The Hamilton Street Bridge is one of 558 bridges the state placed in a rapid bridge replacement project back in 2014. Under the deal, the business consortium Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners would fix or replace the small, state-owned bridges in three years as well as maintain them for the next 20 years for $899 million.
Well, that hasn’t gone to plan — the state had to extend Plenary Walsh’s deadline by four months and pony up on another $43 million for the work.
The four-lane Hamilton Street Bridge hit a snag immediately. Construction started a week late in February due to freezing cold, and Plenary Walsh spokesman Rory McGlasson said Mother Nature hasn’t made things much easier since then.
Construction crews discovered an underground well in the limestone bedrock the hard way, which has led to recurring flooding. Crews also had to contend with regular flooding due to the unusually wet summer we experienced.
At this point, the project won’t be completed until late spring or early summer, McGlasson said.
“We’re constantly dewatering the site,” McGlasson said. “It’s been a constant battle.”
Plenary Walsh is also handling the construction of the Hamilton Boulevard Bridge over the Iron Run in Upper Macungie Township.
This project has also been delayed, but not nearly to the same extent. McGlasson said the construction should be finished in early January instead of December.
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A State Farm survey found 1 in 63 Pennsylvania drivers hit a deer last year, a risk that’s especially high at this time of year.