Heightened danger of deer on road collisions

Road safety. In 2021, 41% of crashes involving vehicles and deer occurred in October, November, and December. Deer and moose are particularly active in the fall, especially at dawn and dusk .

| 31 Oct 2022 | 10:58

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today reminded drivers that deer and moose become more active and are more likely to enter public roadways in the fall. During the months of October, November, and December, it is breeding season for deer and the animals are more visible. According to the University at Albany’s Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research, 41 percent of the crashes in 2021 between deer and vehicles occurred during this three-month span. Motorists should also be on alert for moose on roadways in the Adirondacks and surrounding areas this time of year.

“New York’s roadways are as beautiful as ever during the fall months, but it’s also when deer and moose are more active, so motorists must drive with extra caution to help avoid a collision,” said Mark J.F. Schroeder, DMV Commissioner and Chair of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee. “Watch for deer-crossing signs along roadways, as they indicate deer have been seen at that location and have collided with cars there. Those signs are meant to warn you to be extra cautious when driving through such locations.”

“The fall season is a peak time for wildlife activity across New York, especially for deer and moose who can cross roadways and create the potential for an accident,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Regardless of where you live, all motorists should keep an eye out and be aware that wildlife can cross their paths.”

Motorists should be aware animals are especially active at dawn and dusk when visibility may be reduced and commuter traffic may be heavy. DEC recommends motorists take these precautions to reduce the chance of hitting a deer or moose:

Decrease speed when you approach deer near roadsides. Deer can “bolt” or change direction at the last minute;

If you see a deer go across the road, decrease speed and be careful. Deer often travel in groups, so expect other deer to follow;

Use emergency lights or a headlight signal to warn other drivers when deer are seen on or near the road;

Use caution on roadways marked with deer crossing signs; and

Use extreme caution when driving at dawn or dusk, when animal movement is at its highest and visibility is reduced.

If encountering an animal on the roadway, brake firmly but do not swerve. Swerving can cause a collision with another vehicle, a tree, a pole, or other objects. If an animal is hit, DEC advises motorists to stay away from the animal. A frightened, wounded deer or moose could use its powerful legs and sharp hooves to cause harm.

Other tips for if you strike or encounter an animal include:

Move your vehicle to a safe place. If possible, pull over to the side of the road, and turn on hazard lights. If leaving the vehicle, stay off the road and out of the way of any oncoming vehicles. If a collision occurs at dusk or dawn, please remember traffic visibility could be reduced.

Call the police. Alert authorities if the animal is blocking traffic and creating a threat for other drivers. If the collision results in injury, death, or more than $1,000 in property damage, you must fill out an official crash report (leaves DEC website) and send it to DMV.

Don’t assume your vehicle is safe to drive. Look for leaking fluid, loose parts, tire damage, broken lights, a hood that won’t latch and other safety hazards. If your vehicle seems unsafe in any way, call for a tow truck.

Early fall is the breeding season for moose in northern New York, and moose wander looking for mates, leading them to areas where they are not typically seen. While this improves the opportunities for people to enjoy moose sightings, it also increases the danger of colliding with one on the roadway.

Moose are much larger and taller than deer. Their large body causes greater damage, and, when struck, their height often causes them to impact the windshield of a car or pickup truck, not just the front of the vehicle. Moose are especially difficult to see at night because of their dark brown to black coloring and their height - which puts their head and much of their body above vehicle headlights.

More information about moose and deer can be found on DEC’s website. Additionally, precautions and safety tips about special driving conditions, such as driving in rain, in winter, or in driving emergencies, can be found on DMV’s website (leaves DEC website).
If you see a deer go across the road, decrease speed and be careful. Deer often travel in groups, so expect other deer to follow.