Happy Veterans Day, everyone. If in any way you can, tell a veteran “thank you” today. More on that later.
Now, for other matters.
Beware of what crosses the road ahead of you in the dark. And remember: It might not be alone.
Each year about this time, we see reminders from traffic safety experts that it's deer mating season and there is an increased danger when driving on a roadway where these animals are likely to cross.
You would expect that in rural areas, where the vehicle traffic is down and the wildlife traffic is up. But it can happen within city limits as well.
As examples, in the Oklahoma City area, I've seen deer early in the morning or late at night on the Broadway Extension, along Interstate 35 near Moore, on Northwest Expressway just east of the Integris medical complex and along Interstate 240 on the south side.
Each of these areas are high-volume traffic locations and not your typical spots for seeing wildlife of that size. But it happens.
The experts, such as those at AAA Oklahoma, know the dangers. They keep statistics.
The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office numbers for 2011 in Oklahoma, the latest complete statistics available, show 467 crashes reported involving deer, resulting in two fatalities and 184 people injured.
Quoting safety office results, AAA officials said in a recent news release that 60 percent of the deer-involved motor vehicle crashes were at night, 73 percent were in areas not built up; 95 percent involved deer and one vehicle; and 23 percent occurred in November.
“A driver may encounter any number of scenarios at any given moment behind the wheel,” Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma, said. “Remaining alert and limiting distractions is a must. Animals are unpredictable, so the sooner you see them in the roadway, the more time you will have to safely react.”
Remember: you don't normally expect animals on the roadway. When you do encounter them there, their actions can be erratic and unpredictable.
The AAA release offered some good tips for driving at night when animals enter the picture:
• Scan the roadway (including the shoulders) ahead. Looking ahead can help provide enough reaction time if an animal appears. Always remember that some animals move in groups. If there is one, there may be more.
• When there is no oncoming traffic, use your high beams. This can help you spot the animal quicker and give you more time to slow down, move over or honk to scare the animal.
• If there's no way to avoid a collision, apply your brakes firmly and remain in your lane. Swerving may work against you and cause a more serious crash. Or, it could cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
• Be extra cautious at dawn and dusk. Most animals, especially deer, tend to be more active early in the morning and at dusk.
• Slow down and use extra caution when traveling through areas known to have high and active wildlife populations. Remember that some regions have more activity during certain times of year, such as hunting or mating season.
• Always wear a seat belt and remain awake, alert and sober.
By the way ...
If you encounter a vehicle today with a bumper sticker, window sticker, or any sort of insignia signifying military service, wave and smile. Acknowledge the individual in whatever way you can safely.
It's Veterans Day and we need to make sure we always show them how much we appreciate their service to our country. Without them, we wouldn't have the freedoms we enjoy, including driving privileges that are restricted in some other countries.
These people deserve our respect and appreciation.
Enjoy your week and drive safely.