DMV and DEC warn motorists to watch for deer and moose on or near roadways

Deer and Moose are Most Active During Fall Months, Posing Increased Risk of Crashes

In 2020, 43 Percent of Crashes Involving Vehicles and Deer Occurred
in October, November, and December

ALBANY, NY —  The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today reminded drivers that deer and moose become more active and are more likely to enter public roadways in the fall. During the months of October, November, and December, it is breeding season and the animals are more visible. According to the University at Albany’s Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research, 43 percent of the crashes in 2020 between deer and vehicles occurred during this three-month span. Motorists should also be alert for moose on roadways in the Adirondacks and surrounding areas this time of year.

“During the fall months, motorists should drive with extra caution to help avoid collisions with deer and moose,” said Mark J.F. Schroeder, DMV Commissioner and Chair of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee. “Be on the lookout for deer-crossing signs along roadways. They indicate deer have been seen at that location and have collided with cars there. Those signs are meant to warn you to be extra cautious when driving through such locations.”

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Moose are most active at dawn and dusk and especially difficult to see at night because of their dark brown to black coloring and their height, which puts their heads and bulk of their bodies above vehicle headlights. I encourage drivers on New York’s roads to use extreme caution when driving during these time periods to avoid collisions with moose and deer and reduce their speed, stay alert, and watch the roadsides.”

Motorists should be aware animals are especially active at dawn and dusk when visibility may be reduced and commuter traffic may be heavy. The DEC recommends these precautions motorists can take to reduce the chance of hitting a deer or moose:

  • Decrease speed when you approach deer near roadsides. Deer can “bolt” or change direction at the last minute.

  • If you see a deer go across the road, decrease speed and be careful. Deer travel in groups so expect other deer to follow.

  • Use emergency lights or a headlight signal to warn other drivers when deer are seen on or near the road.

  • Use caution on roadways marked with deer crossing signs.

  • Use extreme caution when driving at dawn or dusk, when animal movement is at its highest and visibility is reduced.

If you encounter an animal on the roadway, brake firmly but do not swerve. Swerving can cause a collision with another vehicle, a tree, a pole, or other objects.

If you do strike an animal, DEC advises motorists to stay away from the animal. A frightened, wounded deer or moose could use its powerful legs and sharp hooves to harm you.

Other tips if you strike or encounter an animal include:

  • Move your vehicle to a safe place. If possible, pull over to the side of the road, and turn on your hazard lights. If you must leave your vehicle, stay off the road and out of the way of any oncoming vehicles. If a collision occurs at dusk or dawn, please remember you could be less visible to traffic.

  • Call the police. Alert authorities if the animal is blocking traffic and creating a threat for other drivers. If the collision results in injury, death or more than $1,000 in property damage, you must fill out an official crash report and send it to DMV.

  • Don’t assume your vehicle is safe to drive. Look for leaking fluid, loose parts, tire damage, broken lights, a hood that won’t latch and other safety hazards. If your vehicle seems unsafe in any way, call for a tow truck.

  • Early fall is the breeding season for moose in northern New York. During this time moose are wandering looking for mates, leading them to areas where they are not typically seen. While this improves the opportunities for people to enjoy moose sightings, it also increases the danger of colliding with one on the roadway.

Moose are much larger and taller than deer. Their large body causes greater damage, and, when struck, their height often causes them to impact the windshield of a car or pickup truck, not just the front of the vehicle. Moose are especially difficult to see at night because of their dark brown to black coloring and their height – which puts their head and much of their body above vehicle headlights.

More information about moose and deer can be found on DEC’s website. Additionally, precautions and safety tips about special driving conditions, such as driving in rain, in winter, or in driving emergencies, can be found on DMV’s website.

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