Fall is approaching with inevitability. Next week will mark the vernal equinox, signaling the beginning of fall. Kids are back in school, football fills the weekends and Halloween candy waits to be pushed out of store aisles for Christmas decorations. And deer hunting season is just around the corner.
That means for drivers on the roads and highways of West Virginia another deer-hunting season has already begun, only the weapon of choice is not a bow or a gun, but your vehicle. West Virginia drivers need to be especially cautious because the state leads the nation in deer-vehicle collisions.
Early in the morning and in the evenings around dusk are when deer are particularly active, but you should be on alert for them this time of year no matter when you drive. During the mating season from October to December also finds deer more aggressive and unpredictable.
Whether driving through woods or alongside farm fields, stay observant to the margins of the fields and road and if the road has limited sightlines, slow down, as you literally never know what may be around the next corner.
If a deer or other animal, like a turkey or raccoon darts in front of your vehicle, do not attempt to swerve to avoid it. While it may seem more humane and could prevent damage to your vehicle, it also can lead to a loss of control, as drivers overcorrect, running off the road into a ditch, tree or utility pole, or across the other lane, causing a deadly head-on collision.
If you are going to hit the deer, brake while firmly holding the steering wheel to prevent your losing control of the vehicle and then move it off to the side of the road before you inspect the damage or the animal.