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State Farm

Deer during mating season cause havoc on the roads. Photo from Kathy Schiavone

It’s that time of year when deer look to mate, and that can result in dangers for motorists on local roadways.

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Environmental Conservation are advising motorists to take care when navigating roads during October, November and December. While deer can be seen all year round roaming around the North Shore, during the fall it’s breeding season.

More deer on the roads in the fall mean an increase in collisions with the animals. Photo from Kathy Schiavone

Two-thirds of the crashes between deer and vehicles occur during the three-month span, according to a press release from the agencies.

In a TBR News Media article from October of 2018, Lori Ketcham, a rehabilitator with Middle Island-based Save the Animals Rescue Foundation, reminded residents that deer don’t hesitate when they are crossing a street, especially in the fall.

“The boys only have one thing on their mind,” Ketcham said. “They’re following the scent so they’re just running. They smell a girl down the street. They run, and they don’t care if there are roads in the way.”

Mark J.F. Schroeder, DMV commissioner and chair of the governor’s traffic safety committee, said drivers should exercise extreme caution during the autumn months.

“When you see a deer-crossing sign along a highway, that means deer have been seen at that location and have collided with cars there,” Schroeder said. “Those signs are meant to warn you to be extra cautious when driving through such locations.”

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said drivers should be alert during both dawn and dusk. The animals tend to be more active during these periods of the day while visibility is also reduced.

The state agencies also recommend decreasing speed when you approach deer near roadsides as they can bolt out or change direction quickly. If you see a deer, look for others as they are herd animals and usually travel in groups.

Motorists are also advised to brake firmly and avoid swerving if they encounter an animal, as swerving can cause collisions. The DEC recommends not approaching an injured animal as they can strike out with their legs or hooves.

Here are a few additional tips in case of a deer collision:

● Move your vehicle to a safe place. If possible, pull over to the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights. If you must leave your vehicle, stay off the road and out of the way of any oncoming vehicles.

● Call the police. Alert authorities if the animal is blocking traffic and creating a threat for other drivers. If the collision results in injury, death or more than $1,000 in property damage, you must fill out an official crash report and send it to the DMV.

● Look for leaking fluid, loose parts, tire damage, broken lights, a hood that won’t latch and other safety hazards. If your vehicle seems unsafe in any way, call for a tow truck.

According to the 2018 State Farm Insurance deer-vehicle collision study, it was estimated that there were 1.33 million deer, elk, moose and caribou collisions between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018, in the U.S. — down from 1.34 million cited in the company’s 2017 study. New Yorkers had a one in 165 chance of crashing into the animals in 2018, according to State Farm.

At Hope Academy at Little Portion Friary in Mount Sinai, representatives from State Farm pass off keys to a Ford van to Charlie Russo to be used by Hope House Ministries. Photo by Alex Petroski

The private sector stepped up to help the helpers Aug. 3.

Through a program called Recycled Rides, which creates partners between insurance providers and auto-repair companies to repair and donate vehicles to those in need, a Ford E series van was donated to Port Jefferson-based Hope House Ministries during a ceremony held at its Mount Sinai location, Hope Academy at Little Portion Friary Friday. Recycled Rides is an initiative started about 10 years ago by the National Auto Body Council, a not-for-profit organization aimed at improving the image of collision industry professionals. In this case, ProLiner Rescue auto-repair shop in Medford and State Farm teamed up to facilitate the donation.

“We brought [ProLiner Rescue] the van, it was a mess,” said Steven Wisotsky, Metro New York Salvage Unit agent at State Farm.

Wisotsky said the vehicle had been stolen. When it was recovered and ultimately purchased by State Farm, it was missing parts, there was substantial damage to its body, and other mechanical work and a paint job were also needed. The repair shop did all the work free of charge.

Steven Wisotsky of State Farm with Charlie Russo of Hope House Ministries. Photo by Alex Petroski

“It’s phenomenal — we don’t have any federal funding or state funding, so for us, everything that we get is so appreciated,” said Charlie Russo, Hope House Ministry’s board chairman. “To have to go out and buy something like this, we can’t budget for. All of our money goes to direct services. It’s a phenomenal gift from this community, we receive so many gifts from this community. Just their support — emotional support, monetary support — and the amount of volunteers that come from our community, it’s just amazing.”

Russo said the van would be used to transport necessary supplies to and from the organization’s 10 facilities, which are dedicated to serving individuals in crisis on Long Island since 1980. The chairman said the van was much needed, though he mentioned Ramp Motors in Port Jefferson Station has also been generous in supplying Hope House with transportation-related needs in the past.

Brookhaven Town councilmembers, Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) and Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point), were among the elected officials in attendance to commend the companies for their generosity.