Iowa drivers must be aware that deer pose a potentially dangerous threat to motor vehicles and their passengers on all Midwest roads - especially during the fall and winter months.
After the fall harvest kicks in and winter descends, crop and cover patterns change dramatically and quickly, daylight hours become shorter, the deer breeding season begins, and deer are on the move more than any time of the year.
These many distractions for deer contribute to their entering roadways at will and unknowingly into the path of vehicles.
Just last week, late afternoon, we hit the brakes and slid on the snowpacked street as three deer ran across the street from Washington High School property through the Bacon Aquatic Center parking lot, and into Gillette Park on West Bluff Street.
We regularly read about Cherokee County vehicle-deer accidents about every other day in this newspaper.
They can appear anywehere, not just out in rural areas.
Here are some things drivers can do that will help them avoid deer-vehicle accidents.
*When driving near shelfterbelts, woodlots, creeks, farm field driveways, or where crops are still standing, especially during evening or early morning, reduce your vehicle's speed and watch very carefully for deer. When you spot a deer, assume there will be others in the same area either ahead of behind the one you've seen. Be prepared to stop suddenly.
*Many places where deer are known to travel are posted with deer crossing signs, but the absence of a sign doesn't mean a deer won't unexpectedly appear anywhere along the roadway.
*Deer often seem to be disoriented or confused by a vehicle's headlights. Some react by freezing in the light, some dart into the path of the vehicle, and others bolt in the opposite direction. Sometimes deer that have just crossed the road suddenly change direction and run back into the vehicle's path, or collide with it.
*Honk your horn and flash your headlights to frighten deer away from the side of the road and ditches. If there is traffic on the road, activate your emergency flashers and tap your brakes to alert other drivers to the potential danger.
*Anticipate the possibility of a deer unexpectedly crossing in front of your vehicle and plan ahead to avoid swerving, turning, or braking the vehicle too sharply if a deer suddenly appears.
These mindful tips can go a long way in ensuring that your drive is a safe one, and aid you in avoiding any costly injury or property damage calamity.