Increasing danger for deer and driversJan 21, 2021 12:30PM ● By Chief Steven J. Wojnar
Dudley is typical of most Central Massachusetts small towns with its combination of rural, residential, and business districts. This mix offers a driver the opportunity to be exposed to some unique circumstances while on the roads. We obviously have a variety of wildlife moving around the area. Instances of deer strikes by motor vehicles occur quite often, especially at this time of the year. I wanted to make people aware of this important issue and offer some information to avoid crashes.
The National Highway Safety Administration (NHSA) conducted a study concerning the increasing dangers from deer-related vehicle accidents. These crashes have consistently risen over the years due to increasing deer populations and destruction of their habitat. Given the fact that Dudley has many open fields and wooded areas along many miles of road, the possibility of these incidents occurring increases. Anyone who has experienced these situations understands how dangerous these encounters can be. Deer often run out into traffic without hesitation. They are large animals and a collision can cause a great deal of damage as well as injuries to occupants.
Many resources provide explanations and tips for dealing with these situations. “The Culture of Safety” indicates most of these incidents will occur at dusk or early evening. Deer have tendencies to travel in packs, so if you see one, there is a high likelihood more are nearby. Pay attention to deer warning signs along highways in other prominent areas, as those locations have been determined to be places of frequent contact. In rural areas, be sure to visually scan fields or wooded places while driving to become aware of these animals.
Injuries and serious damage can occur when drivers swerve to avoid animals. The recommendation is to avoid major evasive maneuvers that can cause a serious crash. Often, it may be your best bet to strike the deer, or other animal for that matter, as opposed to colliding with a tree, an oncoming vehicle, or rolling your car over. These situations are always determined case by case. Encounters of this nature are unexpected. It is critical to be aware of your surroundings, watch your speed, and drive defensively.
As the pandemic continues and cases rise, we ask everyone to stay safe and continue to take the necessary precautions to protect yourselves. The work of the town officials, particularly our administrator and most importantly, the Board of Health officials, is greatly appreciated. The rules regarding this virus seem to change constantly, and more pressure is placed on local governments to respond, all with limited resources. We continue to serve the people of Dudley and work with the community to improve the quality of life for everyone. I thank the men and women from my department for their continued dedicated service to the town during these trying times. Thanks also go out to the many police officers, fire and emergency services members, public works, health care, government and all other “essential” personnel for their continued hard work and service. We greatly appreciate the support we receive from our community.
---------------------------------------------------Thanks again for your questions and comments. Please send them to me at the Dudley Police Department 71 West Main St., Dudley, Ma. 01571 or email at [email protected]. Opinions expressed in this weekly column are those of Chief Wojnar only and unless clearly noted, do not reflect the ideas or opinions of any other organization or citizen.