Fall is deer rutting season, drive carefully

Dear Street Smarts, Q: What's up with all the dead deer on the sides of the road these days? I was just ambushed by one a few days ago on Highway 17 south of Scotts Valley. It was predawn when the huge deer came bounding out of nowhere. The collision totaled my car. Very scary. The tow truck driver who came to take the car away told me that this was about the 20th such incident he's been called to in the last few weeks. I understand it is mating season and the deer are out more than usual this time of year. Is there anything a driver can do to minimize exposure to this kind of accident? LWB via email A: Fall is dear rutting season. It's a time when testosterone driven bucks are on the hunt for does and when does , fawns and bucks are grazing together. Sounds like you may have been clobbered by a buck. Anyway, as for your question, the best way drivers can avoid colliding with deer is to slow down, said Officer Sarah Jackson of the California Highway Patrol. “Keep your speed at or under the speed limit,” she said. “The faster you go, the less time you have to react to any hazard on the roadway. If you see one deer on or near the roadway, slow way down until you are well past the deer. They generally stay in groups and the deer you don't see yet may run out in front of you. Stay alert and keep your eyes on the road. Scan well ahead of your vehicle so you can see a hazard that much sooner.” Jackson also warned against swerving to avoid hitting a deer. “I have personally seen countless injury collisions resulting from someone swerving into a tree, oncoming traffic, or pedestrians, or even rolling over in order to avoid striking a deer,” she said while noting that her office gets a significant increase in the number of vehicle versus deer collisions during this time of year. “Deer in Santa Cruz County do not usually grow big enough to cause serious damage to a vehicle or its occupants. Do what you can to slow down, but do not swerve.”
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