It's deer-rutting season, and a new countywide traffic safety commission wants to alert motorists to the heightened danger of accidents.
Statistics compiled by the recently formed Traffic Safety Advisory Committee show that more than half of all deer-related crashes in the county occur from September through December.
"We're hoping that people will realize that the threat is out there and will look at the big picture while driving down the road," said County Engineer Keith Browning, who co-chairs the committee.
That means keeping an eye on the road and what's lurking next to it, especially in areas where trees and shrubs obscure the view, said committee member Roger Pine.
The peak hours for deer-related accidents fall around dawn and dusk often the times people are driving to and from work.
Although the number of deer-related accidents in the county has dropped slightly since 1999, most still result in property damage of more than $500 and sometimes injury.
To help avoid such consequences, the committee recommends the following defensive driving techniques:
Be especially alert at dawn and dusk peak movement times for deer.
Drive at a modest speed, particularly on roads bordering woodlands, parklands, golf courses and streams or creek bottoms.
Watch for deer-crossing signs. They're placed in areas where deer-vehicle collisions have happened before.
But being cautious doesn't always mean avoiding the deer at all costs, Browning said.
"It depends on the character of the road, but on most county routes, it would be best to hit the deer," he said, noting that the most serious accidents occur when drivers lose control of their vehicles trying to avoid an animal.
If you are driving and cannot avoid hitting a deer, the American Automobile Assn. recommends taking your foot off the brake at the time of impact so the front end of your vehicle will lift up and the deer will go under the car..