Fall and Thanksgiving safe driving tips from Indiana State Police

Contributed By: The 411 News

In case of rain, fog, wet leaves, deer crashes

Turkey and dressing, pumpkin spice, football ... Thanksgiving and fall are upon us; however, family gatherings and holiday shopping are not the only things for which we need to prepare. Falling leaves, colder temperatures, and increased holiday travel are making their appearance as well. With these changes come driving hazards more unique to autumn than other times of the year.

According to the Institute of Highway Safety, autumn typically brings a sharp increase in car versus animal insurance claims, most of which involve deer. These claims usually peak in November and decrease through December and January. In 2022, over 6,000 car versus deer crashes were reported in Indiana during this same three-month period. Tragically, 141 of those crashes resulted in injuries, and four were fatal. Wet leaves, colder temperatures, and increased rainfall add to the mix.

Increased travel over the 2022 Thanksgiving travel period also had a tragic impact on Hoosier travel statistics. Between Wednesday, November 23rd, and Sunday, November 27th, 2022, authorities investigated over 2300 crashes. 381 of those were listed as injury crashes, and seven crashes resulted in ten fatalities.

The Indiana State Police in Lowell wants to remind everyone to drive safely this holiday season. Do not text or drive distracted; obey posted speed limits; and always drive sober. In addition, giving yourself extra travel time and keeping a safe distance are a must. Don't let someone speeding tempt you to do the same. Allow them to pass on the left, keeping slower traffic to the right.

Here are some more tips for safe autumn driving:

Wet Leaves: Wet leaves can be as slippery as an ice-covered roadway. Drive slowly on leaf-covered roads and avoid hard braking. Also, remember that leaves can obscure lane and roadway markings, so pay attention to the edge of the roadway and stay in your lane.

Rain and Fog: Wet roads are slippery and may lead to hydroplaning. Increase your following distance, and don't use cruise control. If it's foggy, use your low beams or fog lights and avoid using high beams.

Bridges and overpasses: Any roadway not in direct contact with the ground can freeze quickly. Morning frost can leave icy patches, and shaded areas may remain icy after other parts of the roadway are dry.

Concerning Car/Deer crashes:
Buckle Up! Sudden stopping from a collision or even hard braking are common injury causes. Your seatbelt is the best protection to help prevent you or your passengers from harm.

Watch for Signs: Deer crossing signs are there for a reason. Use caution when seeing these signs, and remember that deer often travel in groups. If you see one, assume more are nearby. Remember to recruit your passengers to assist in looking for deer.

What Time is it?: Deer are most active at dawn and dusk as they look for food. This time of year is also their migration and mating season, another reason they are more active.

Don't Swerve: If a crash is unavoidable, don't swerve to avoid hitting the deer. Not only could you swerve into the path of another car, but you could also lose control of your vehicle. Brake firmly and stay in your lane. Studies show more serious crashes happen when drivers swerve to avoid an animal.

I Struck a Deer; Now What? Unfortunately, car/deer crashes are sometimes unavoidable, even if you take the above precautions. If you have a collision, remember to move your car off the roadway and call 911 or your nearest police agency. If your vehicle becomes disabled, the safest place for you to be is in your vehicle with the seatbelt fastened while you wait for first responders.

Story Posted:11/22/2023

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