LINCOLN — Route 116 South, near the intersection to Blackstone Valley Place proved to be quite the scene on Monday morning.
Two elderly women had been traveling southbound at about 9:30 a.m. when a deer leaped in front of their 2002 Buick Century and crashed through its windshield and roof, ripping a massive hole. In the process, the animal struck a 75-year-old passenger from Central Falls, and the woman suffered injuries to her head and face, stated Police Capt. Raymond Bousquet.
Rescue personnel arrived at the accident site and immediately transported the victim to Rhode Island Hospital for treatment. The driver wasn't injured, despite the fact the deceased deer landed in the back seat.
Such accidents are not uncommon during the fall season. According to officials with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, this is the time when drivers will see more deer crossing roads and highways, and those officials are warning operators to be aware of their surroundings.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, there are 1.6 million deer-vehicle collisions ever year, resulting in 200 occupant deaths, more than 10,000 injuries and over $3.6 billion paid out in vehicle damage.
“Once the first frost arrives, male deer activity increases, and we see more auto and deer collisions,” said Allstate Insurance Co. spokesman John Heid. “Drivers need to be extra cautious … to make sure they do not hit deer running across the road. Not only can the deer be harmed, but it also is a dangerous situation for the passengers … not to mention the potential damage to an automobile.”
He indicated that vehicle operators and occupants should follow these tips to avoid such collisions:
* Deer are not just found on rural roads near wooded areas, as many deer-related crashes occur on busy highways near cities.
* Deer are unpredictable, especially when faced with glaring headlights, blaring horns and fast-moving vehicles. They often dart into traffic.
* They often move in groups, so – if you see one – there are likely more in the vicinity.
* Drive with caution when moving through deer-crossing zones, in areas known to have a large deer population and in sections where roads divide agricultural fields from forestland.
* Always wear your seat belt and stay awake, alert and sober.
* When driving at night, use high-beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic. The high beams will better illuminate the eyes of deer on or near the roadway.
* Be especially tentative from sunset to midnight and hours shortly before and after sunrise. These are the highest risk times for deer-vehicle collisions.
* Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path, but stay in your lane. Many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and then hit another vehicle or lose control of their own cars.
* Do not rely on devices such as deer whistles, deer fences and reflections to deter deer. These devices have not proven effective.
Drivers also always should keep an eye on the vehicles in front of them, and should be prepared to stop suddenly, as there's no telling when a herd may decide to cross. That may force drivers ahead to slam on their brakes.