Fall is a beautiful time of the year in Montana, but it is also when drivers face additional challenges. With the breeding season approaching for deer and other wildlife, drivers should expect increased wildlife activity on or near roadways. With that in mind, the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) reminds motorists to use extra caution and stay alert when driving this fall to avoid animal-vehicle collisions and offers the following tips:
Be extra cautious at dawn and dusk — Be especially attentive in early morning and evening. Many animals, especially deer, are most active during these times, which overlap prime commuting times. Avoid driving on cruise control during these times, and drive at a lower speed. Using high beams when there is no oncoming traffic will help you spot animals sooner.
Always wear a seatbelt — The chances of vehicle occupants getting injured when hitting an animal are much higher without seatbelts properly buckled. Also, never drive impaired, distracted, or drowsy.
See one? Look for another– Deer and other wildlife rarely travel alone, so if there is one, there are likely to be more. Slow down and watch for other wildlife to appear.
Scan the road ahead — Continually look across the front of the road for signs of animals and movement. Slow down when approaching deer or other wildlife standing near roadsides. They have a tendency to bolt, possibly onto the roadway. Use emergency flashers to warn oncoming drivers after spotting deer near a roadway.
Don’t swerve — Use brakes if an impact is imminent. Don’t swerve. Swerving away from animals can lead to head-on collisions, impacts with objects on the side of the road, or rolling the vehicle.
If you hit an animal — Pull over onto the road shoulder, turn on emergency flashers and watch for traffic before exiting the vehicle. Don’t try to remove an animal from the roadway unless it is safe to do so and it is dead. An injured animal is dangerous. For help and to report a collision, call the city police, county sheriff, or the Montana Highway Patrol at 855-647-3777, depending on where the crash occurs.