The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and New Jersey Department of Transportation remind motorists to be alert for white-tailed deer as days get shorter and deer become more active with the mating season getting underway.
Deer are involved in thousands of collisions with motor vehicles in New Jersey each year, with the highest number occurring during the fall mating season,” said NJDEP Fish & Wildlife Assistant Commissioner Dave Golden. “It is very important that motorists in all parts of the state be alert to the possibility of deer suddenly darting onto roadways, and to follow some basic guidelines to stay safe.”
Deer are entering the fall mating season, known as the fall rut, and may suddenly sprint onto roadways as bucks actively pursue does. Rutting activities are most pronounced in the very early morning and around sunset, when visibility can be limited.
Exercising caution becomes even more important when Daylight Saving Time ends Nov. 5, causing commutes to align with periods when deer are most active and lighting conditions can be most difficult for motorists. For motorists, low levels of light and sun glare can make it very difficult to see deer that are about to cross the road.
The following tips can help motorists stay safe during deer mating season:
- If you see a deer, slow down and pay attention to possible sudden movement. If the deer is in the road and doesn’t move, don’t go around it. Wait for the deer to pass and the road is clear.
- Pay attention to “Deer Crossing” signs. Slow down when traveling through areas known to have a high concentration of deer so you will have ample time to stop if necessary.
- If you are traveling after dark, use high beams when there is no oncoming traffic or vehicles ahead. High beams will be reflected by the eyes of deer on or near roads.
- If you see one deer crossing, be on guard: others may be in the area. Deer typically move in family groups at this time of year and cross roads single-file.
- Don’t tailgate. Remember: the driver in front of you might have to stop suddenly to avoid hitting a deer.
- Always wear a seatbelt, as required by law. Drive at a safe and sensible speed, accounting for weather, available lighting, traffic, curves and other road conditions.
- If a collision appears inevitable, do not swerve to avoid impact. The deer may counter-maneuver suddenly. Brake appropriately but stay in your lane. Collisions are more likely to become fatal when a driver swerves to avoid a deer and instead collides with oncoming traffic or a fixed structure along the road.
- Do not use handheld devices while driving.
- Report any deer-vehicle collision to a local law enforcement agency immediately.
For general information about white-tailed deer in New Jersey, visit https://dep.nj.gov/njfw/wildlife/white-tailed-deer/
For more information about white-tailed deer in New Jersey, visit: www.njfishandwildlife.com/deer.htm