NORTH COAST, Calif. - Autumn is mating season for deer, which means the animals are less cautious about darting out into the road, according to Caltrans, which creates a hazard for drivers.
In the past two weeks, Caltrans crews in Ukiah said they have seen an increase in deer collisions.
"This happens every fall, but it catches drivers off guard, especially at dusk", Caltrans South Area Maintenance Superintendent Marty Sills said.
Fall is also mating season for elk, which are less numerous than deer, but just as hazardous to motorists here in northern California.
Drivers should be extra vigilant this time of year and follow these tips for driving in deer country:
• Be particularly attentive between sunset and midnight, the hours shortly before and after sunrise, and in foggy conditions. Most deer-vehicle collisions occur during these times.
• Drive carefully in areas known to have high deer populations. Places where roads divide agricultural fields or streams from forestland are particularly dangerous.
• If you see a deer, slow down. Others are probably nearby.
• Use high-beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic. The high beams can reflect off animal eyes and warn you of their presence.
• If a deer is in your lane, brake firmly but stay in the lane. The most serious crashes occur when drivers swerve.
• Don't rely on deer whistles, deer fences, or reflectors to deter deer.
• If your car strikes a deer, don't touch the animal. If the deer is blocking the highway, call 911.