Deer-vehicle accidents can occur any time of the day, any time of year, even on Naval Air Station Patuxent River.
Last week there were two deer-vehicle accidents on base, bringing the 2014 total to three, so far. There were 13 in 2013. These accidents have occurred on both main thoroughfares and on roads that are less travelled.
“On Pax and Webster [Outlying Field], as with all of Southern Maryland, we are both blessed and cursed with an abundance and variety of wildlife and wildlife habitat,” said Lance McDaniel, NAS Patuxent River Environmental Division director, adding that the largest animal-damage threat comes from the whitetail deer.
Although deer crossing signs are not posted at all corners of the base, McDaniel said it’s important for drivers to know that deer are everywhere, and to know how they can keep accidents to a minimum.
“Because of the number of buildings, fences and woods we have —and throw in the 20,000 commuters — the deer and the commuter are bound to meet unexpectedly,” he said.
Below are some tips offered by AAA and the Insurance Information Institute for drivers to consider:
Scan the road and shoulders ahead of you. By looking ahead, drivers may have enough reaction time if an animal is spotted.
Remember, deer tend to travel in groups. When there is one, there are usually more nearby.
Be extra cautious at dawn and dusk. Most animals, especially deer, tend to be more active early in the morning and at dusk.
Use high beam headlights if there’s no oncoming traffic. High beams also help in spotting some animals’ reflective eyes.
Slow down and use extra caution when traveling. Deer can be highly unpredictable, especially when caught in headlights, exposed to loud noises such as horns, or confused by fast-moving vehicles.
Keep vehicle windows clean and ensure its exterior lighting works.
If a collision is unavoidable, apply the brakes firmly and remain in your lane. Never veer for a deer. Swerving to avoid an animal can often cause a more serious crash or result in losing control of the vehicle.
Do not try to move the animal. An injured animal may panic and seriously injure someone. If an accident happens, pull to a safe location and Call 911 to reach the base police for assistance.