STATEWIDE — Seeing a deer out in nature can be exciting, but unexpected when they suddenly appear in front of your car.
“Here in Maine, it’s about the first week in November into the second week that is the peak of the rut or the breeding season for deer,” said Nathan Bieber, a deer biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
“Their activity rates go up a lot and they’re traveling a lot more so they’re much more likely to cross roads and encounter motorists,” Bieber said.
AAA is warning drivers that it’s peak season for deer crashes.
Across the United States, AAA officials said there are about 1.5 million deer-related crashes annually.
“Last year alone, in the state of Maine we experienced about 5,500 deer car crashes. And that average repair bill is about $4,000,” said Pat Moody, manager of public affairs at AAA Northern New England.
So how can you avoid deer-related crashes?
Bieber said deer tend to move around dusk or dawn but this time of year is different. They’re also moving throughout the day.
“It’s really important that you raise your level of awareness. You’re really scanning the road, you’re slowing down, using your high beams when appropriate so you can pick up that deer activity,” Moody said.
Moody also suggested following the warning signs along the road where there’s a higher risk of deer activity.
If a crash is unavoidable, Moody said to apply the breaks but avoid jerking the steering wheel. Leaving the lane can cause a significant risk of injury.
“If you’ve got a slippery road, it’s going to be a lot harder to react to a deer properly so if you’ve got a wet road or you start to see some snow on the road, be doubly cautious,” Bieber said.