Some parts of Southwest Montana have extended 2020 deer hunting licenses through February 15, 2021. During this time, the number of auto accidents associated with deer collisions tends to rise. Insurance Information Institute data indicates an average of 200 fatalities a year in this type of incident.
Review these steps to prevent a wildlife-related motor vehicle incident if you live in the Billings area.
Deer are more active at sunrise and sunset when they look for food. Be especially cautious when driving during those hours, as well as after dark until midnight. Use your headlights whenever you travel after dark. Look for the gleam of the animal’s eyes, which will visibly reflect if they are near.
These animals travel in packs. If you see one, slow down or pull over until the rest cross the road. Pay close attention when you drive near wooded areas, fields and meadows.
Swerving when you see a deer might be your first instinct. However, this action increases the chances you will lose control of your vehicle or drive straight into the animal. Instead, firmly press down on your brakes.
Honking the horn in one long, loud blast may startle the animal out of your path. Avoid commercial deer deterrents, which do not always prevent collisions.
If you do have a collision with an animal, call 911 for help. Pull over in a safe place and put your hazard lights on so other drivers can see you. Do not approach the animal, as doing so can result in serious injury.