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Dear Deer Prove Hazardous

What the deer hope hunters will read.

What the deer hope hunters will read.

Don’t venture out for that pleasant drive in the countryside north of Lower Pottsgrove (PA) Township on Monday, Dec. 1, or Saturday, Dec. 6 (2008), the folks who sell Erie Insurance say. They’re the days that, statistically, you’re most likely to hit a deer – or have a deer hit you – while driving in Pennsylvania.

The 1st and 6th are the opening day and the first Saturday, respectively, of deer hunting season in the Keystone State. Deer are scared from their habitats by hunters’ activities, and so end up taking to the highways.

Erie knows these numbers, it says, because it’s been keeping track of deer-related automobile accident insurance claims for the past 10 years. The company purports to be the 16th largest auto insurer in the U.S. Its research also shows that:

  • About one in every 100 drivers is likely to have a collision with a deer. Unlucky motorists in Pennsylvania’s Potter County, 260 miles northwest of Sanatoga, are three times more likely than Sanatogans to hit a deer. Even unluckier motorists in Sullivan County, 150 miles north of Sanatoga and west midway between Scranton and Williamsport, are four times more likely to hit a deer.
  • Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia and West Virginia are states where deer-claim frequency is highest. One bright spot: deer-vehicle collisions in Pennsylvania went down slightly last year.
  • Deer-vehicle crashes cause more than 200 deaths, tens of thousands of injuries, and $1.1 billion in property damages annually.

Being vigilant helps avoid accidents, an Erie spokesman notes. His advice:

  1. Don’t rely on deer whistles, deer fences or reflectors to deter deer. They may work, or not.
  2. Deliberately watch for deer – including the reflection of deer eyes and deer silhouettes on the shoulder of the road – when driving late at night or early in the morning.
  3. Use high-beam headlights at night when there is no opposing traffic.
  4. If there’s a deer on the highway, don’t assume it will get out of your way. Slow down and blow your horn to urge the deer to leave. Really.
  5. If you see a deer in or near your path, brake firmly but stay in your lane.
  6. If a collision seems imminent,it’s better to hit a deer while maintaining full control of your vehicle than to swerve to avoid striking a deer.
  7. If your car strikes a deer, you are are uncertain whether or not the deer is dead, keep your distance.
  8. If the deer is blocking the roadway, contact the state Game Commission or local law enforcement.

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