Utah’s mule deer, elk and moose aren’t usually city dwellers. Given the choice, they prefer trees and forests to concrete and neighborhoods. So, you are more likely to encounter wildlife in Utah’s rural areas and on rural roads.
That being said, Utah’s human population is growing rapidly. We’re now building houses and roads in what used to be rural areas and deer habitat. Increasingly, you’ll see deer wandering through the suburbs and trying to cross bigger, busier roads.
To avoid hitting a deer, especially in areas known to be deer habitat, you must DRIVE DIFFERENTLY!
Adapt to the Road
If you've ever driven on I-15 along the Wasatch front, you may have noticed that people have a tendency to push speed limits and follow other cars pretty closely.
The variables you face as a driver in an urban environment are different from those you face in a rural or suburban area near deer habitat.
Recognize that you’re in a different place, and you need to adjust — your thinking, your perspective and, most of all, your speed. When you get on a rural road or see a deer crossing sign, change your driving! DRIVE DIFFERENTLY!
These are basic safe-driving practices, but they’re even more important when you visit an area where you could encounter wildlife.
The most important thing you can do to avoid a collision with wildlife is to slow down. Your speed is critical because it affects the distance you need to stop.
Reducing your speed can go a long way toward preventing a crash with an animal and keeping you safe. This is especially important when it’s deer thirty — the hours from dusk through dawn.
If you’re driving through deer territory, slow down.
Be A Super Scanner
Since many of us drive quite often, we can be lulled into complacency behind the wheel — we look straight ahead, make sure nothing’s there and then let our minds wander.
But, when you’re in a rural area or deer crossing area, keep your eyes open and your head on a swivel. Remember to scan, scan, scan. It’s all about anticipation and heightened awareness.
How Do You Scan?
- Keep your eyes moving.
- Don't fixate on one object
or the road right in front of you for more than a moment.
- Look down the road ahead
of your vehicle so you can see hazards early.
- Expand your focus
By only looking down the middle of the road, you could miss seeing animal activity on the sides of the road.
Shift Your Mindset
We’re always on the go. We try to reach our destinations quickly, usually multi-tasking along the way. When you’re in rural Utah, try to leave that urgency behind, especially if you’re on vacation or enjoying some leisure time.
Really watch your speed and keep it at the posted limit or even under it. Sing along with your music and take turns driving so everyone has a chance to enjoy the sights.
You probably don’t like it when people blow through your neighborhood at high speeds, and Utah’s wildlife feels the same way. So, take it slowly, scan for animals and stay safe on Utah’s roads.