Leader Blues

Monday, November 19, 2007

EDITORIALS>>Watch out for deer

Paragould Daily Press ó Yes, itís deer season again. But no, we arenít talking about on what days one may hunt, or with what weapons.

We are talking about the unintended weapons with which many unwary motorists manage to get themselves a deer, however accidentally: collisions between deer on the one hand, and cars or trucks on the other.

Itís the time of year that the deer are out, crossing roads at just the time when they cannot be seen: dawn, dusk and the first few hours of darkness. And anyone who has even had a near-miss will tell you they tend to spring out and hit the road at a dead run just as your vehicle approaches.

Some might even suggest the deer are engaged in playing chicken with the vehicles, for whatever reason.

Of course, thatís not true, but the fact remains that, according to published statistics made available by the U.S. Army, there are an average of 2,200 collisions between deer and vehicles each year.

Most of these collisions are in the mid- to late fall. Thatís the time of year we are right now so we are all at some risk. Such collisions do an average of $3,000 damage to the vehicles, occasionally leaving a given vehicle undriveable.

But the damage or the frequency of such collisions is not the major issue. What if the deer you hit comes up onto and past the hood of your car? Where does it go?

Right into your windshield, thatís where. And even granted that hitting the deer with the front of your car will dissipate some of the energy of the collision, itís still up to 250 pounds of deer coming through the windshield at speeds up to 60 miles an hour.

Everyone in the front seat is therefore at risk of serious injury, even death, from such a collision.

So the threat is real. What to do about it is pretty straightforward, if not a 100 percent guarantee of collision avoidance.
According to published sources including those of the U.S. Army, the areas containing the greatest threats of deer-vehicle collisions are wooded areas and fields. You know just like what we have around here alongside roads even inside Paragould. So extra vigilance and slower speeds are necessary in these areas.

Keep your eyes peeled during low-light conditions. Generally we are talking dusk, dawn and the first few hours of darkness. Even so, some of us have seen and barely missed deer in early afternoons of sunny days.

Drive with your lights on high beam when there is not oncoming traffic. The extra light will reflect out of the deerís eyes so you can see the eyes before you actually see the deer.

At this time of the year, especially with the onset of hunting season, deer are apt to become panicky in efforts to evade real or imagined hunters.

Stay alert and watch the sides of the road as well as the center.