Deer along the Texas roadsides at night are a ‘sometimes’ occurrence. There are a few steps you can take to minimize that which is undesired – hitting/killing a deer while driving your vehicle – from happening. On a small number of nights, I’ve not even seen one deer, but most nights, I’ve seen 2-10 deer. Still with a few nights, I’ve counted upwards of 30 that I’ve seen while driving the Texas country roads.
The following tips in no way constitute official guidelines or a complete packet of information regarding deer and driving. These are just the common sense considerations which we’ve come up with or learned at Red Corral Ranch. We offer these tips as basic information to help our guests who are driving to or from an event at Red Corral Ranch at night (or anyone else who would like to avoid hitting or killing a deer at night on the Texas roadways.)
- Don’t speed! Driving about 55 mph or even 50 mph at night is much wiser than a faster speed, even if the speed limit is 65 or 60 mph, especially when driving country roads. It will give you more time to react if deer appear out of nowhere, which they can do.
- Don’t talk on your cellphone. Distractions will cause you to lose your speed of reacting. Deer can quite literally be in the road just around the next bend or over the next hill.
- Make sure your seatbelt is on. You won’t have time to buckle up if you have to slam on your brakes.
- Keep your headlights on high beam. This will give you a larger area that you can scan and see. Obviously, you can’t use the high beams with oncoming traffic.
- Be aware that with oncoming traffic, it’s harder to see deer that may be near. Driving slower can help in this situation, too.
- If you’re following someone, increase your following distance. This is for both you and the driver you’re following. It’s just as likely for them to stop suddenly because of deer in the road as it is for you.
- Continue to scan the sides of the road as you drive. Don’t space out – this is a higher than normal, dangerous driving condition – night driving on country roads in areas where deer exist – which is just about all over the Texas Hill Country.
- When you see a deer, slow down. Deer can react randomly and erratically. Sometimes, they stay still. Sometimes, they’ll take off running in any number of directions.
- If you see one deer, expect there to be 1, 2 or even 3 or more. They tend to be in groups at night.
- Even if they’re not moving, at a particular moment, they can and sometimes do run out in front of you, run across the road to the opposite side or run parallel to the road in the same direction. Sometimes, if they run parallel to the road in the same direction as you, they will then run into the road to try to cross the road.
- Don’t hesitate to use your horn if they are already in the road. When deer look into oncoming headlights, and with deer not being able to see the vehicle, sometimes, they will run in front of the headlights or stand still in the road. The horn gives another way to get them to move away from the vehicle. But, be very careful when you use the horn as this can also cause them to run into the road. Don’t just use the horn randomly, but if they’re already in the road, the horn can be helpful.
- Small country towns can even have some deer in their town limits. Most of the time, these deer will come out after dark and after traffic quiets down. But, deer will come out when they want to, so there are no fast rules that govern their behavior.
- Even with all precautions, it’s still possible that –
DEER WILL SEEMINGLY COME OUT OF NOWHERE, AND YOU WON’T SEE THEM UNTIL THEY’RE IN FRONT OF YOU AND YOU HIT THEM! If you drive the same roads during the day, most likely, you’ll see the bodies of deer that have been killed. There’s no doubt that there was damage done to many vehicles. The statistics would surprise you. I personally know of incidences when the cars have been totaled. I’ve had incidences where I don’t see any deer until the second that it’s in front of me.
- If you come across a dead or dying deer in the road that someone else has hit, if you have a cell phone, you can call the county sheriff or 911. It is a road hazard and can be reported. Be careful if you try to move it off the road yourself. We don’t recommend it. It might still be alive, but too injured to move itself. It is still a wild animal and could injure you.
- If you have to react quickly, some research recommends braking firmly and straight in the road and not veering off. If you’re in a situation where you have to do that, then I also strongly suggest leaning on the horn at the same time. It saved me once. Research done in Iowa reports that most deer crash injuries and deaths result when drivers attempt to avoid the animal.
- If you hit/kill a deer, call the sheriff or 911. Again, we don’t recommend you trying to move it for the reasons given above in #14.
- So, regardless of whether you’re coming to or leaving Red Corral Ranch, or just driving the Texas roads, please stay alert and drive carefully.
Jodie, the Innkeeper