LOOK OUT FOR DEER                      

The time from mid-October to December is considered “deer season.” You are most likely to encounter deer out and about during this time of year, and this is also the time of year when it is legal for those licensed to hunt them. During this time of year, it is more likely to see them running near or on the road, especially in and around wooded areas. Many of you live in, or drive through, these types of places, so always be on the lookout this time of year, whatever time of day or night during which you are driving!

Hitting a deer can be extremely scary and can do quite a bit of damage to your car (I’m the voice of experience) and the passengers in it. Unfortunately, if one does charge out in front of you, there isn’t much you can do, but if you are careful and alert, you will at least be able to anticipate what’s going on around you and be on the lookout for them!

Cars and deer can be a lethal combination. Each year the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that there are more than 1.5 million crashes in the United States involving deer, costing an estimated $1.1 billion in vehicle damage.

The average cost per insurance claim was $2,000, with costs varying depending on the type of vehicle and severity of damage, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

During deer season, which runs from October through December, there can be dramatic movements in the deer population with a significant number of deer darting onto highways and into suburban neighborhoods. Over this time period, more deer-vehicle collisions occur than any other time of year, so drivers need to be especially cautious.

The I.I.I. suggests the following defensive driving tips to avoid hitting a deer:

  • Be attentive from sunset to midnight and hours shortly before and after sunrise. These are the highest risk periods for deer-vehicle collisions to occur.
  • Drive with caution when moving through deer-crossing zones, in areas known to have a large deer population and in areas where roads divide agricultural fields from forestland. Deer seldom run alone. If you see one deer, others may be nearby.
  • When driving at night, use high beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic. The high-beams will better illuminate the eyes of deer on or near the roadway.
  • Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path, but stay in your lane. Many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or lose control of their cars.
  • Do not rely on devices such as deer whistles, deer fences and reflectors to deter deer. These devices have not been proven to reduce deer-vehicle collisions.
  • Always wear your seat belt. Deer-vehicle collisions can result in serious injuries. People tend to underestimate how much damage collisions with animals can cause.
DON’T SLIDE ON THE LEAVES                    

Autumn’s leaves are beautiful to see, but when wet or in piles, they present driving hazards unique to the season. The Car Care Council reminds drivers to prepare for fall driving conditions by having their vehicles’ tires, brakes and wipers checked before heading out.

Most motorists know that puddles or standing water can cause loss of control, and they adjust their driving accordingly. But fewer drivers, especially inexperienced ones or drivers new to an area with heavy foliage, are aware of the dangers of wet leaves.

A single layer of wet leaves can make braking, steering and stopping difficult. This effect is particularly dangerous at intersections and is intensified at downhill stop signs. Acceleration can be affected, too. Fishtailing can result on leaf-strewn interstate entrance ramps and other areas where hard accelerations may be necessary.

Even when dry, leaves can present a challenge. Piles of leaves can obscure potholes, curbs and street markings and even present a fire hazard should leaves contact a hot muffler or tailpipe.

The Council reminds motorists that tires can affect the car’s ride, handling, traction and safety, and that they are a critical connection between the car and the road in all types of driving conditions. To maximize tire life and safety, check the inflation pressure and the tread depth, and inspect the sidewalls for cracks or punctures. As a general rule, tires should be rotated every 6,000 miles and balanced.

The brake system is the car’s most important safety system. Brakes are a normal wear item for any car, and brake linings, drums and rotors, as well as brake fluid, should be checked at each oil change.

To help ensure the performance and safety of wipers, blades should be replaced every six months or when cracked, cut, torn, streaking or chattering. Windshield wiper fluid should be checked monthly, and only washer fluid should be used.


Tuesday, 2 October 2012 8:36 PM


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