Windy roads, hills, and trees for miles are perfect fun, especially if one enjoys driving at great speeds. This sums up Moraga, the town which our college is located in. But, the speed limit of 35 mph is there for a reason, and here’s why.
Recently, I have seen so many dead deer in Moraga that it cannot be ignored, thus, something needs to be said in order to advise how to stop them from being hit. Before COVID-19 (and I am talking 2019 here), I saw fewer deers dead on the side of the road. Speeding up to now, I am seeing a dead deer at least once every two weeks. Now I am not entirely sure why there is a difference in the past two years, but I can assume that it has to do with something about the excitement and the stress that everyday life has brought upon its return. So, I see people go faster in Moraga above the 35 mph speed limit. Sometimes I think people disregard the speed limit as it can be pretty dull going through Moraga if they are looking to go out. Even so, when going to school especially because they live off-campus, the speed limit can be a nuisance as they bypass it to get to class on time.
Now, before I start going off about where this has gotten us and how we are endangering the lives of deer like it is nothing, I want to say that I am guilty of driving quickly through Moraga. Have I hit a deer as a result of it? No, but I have crossed a deer before, especially in the middle of the night when Moraga is pitch black. In this moment, I was happy that I was respecting the speed limit; in fact, I was going slower because I couldn’t see for the life of me. If I had been going above the speed limit, I am sure that I would have killed that deer, and as a result, I would have totaled my car. Hitting a deer based on that anecdote seems to be a major possibility. So, this is where I give you advice based around what an expert of not-hitting-deers-when-driving says.
I started by looking up “How to Not Hit Deer When Driving,” and the most recent source that popped up is “How to Avoid Collisions With Deer This Fall” written by Jeff S. Bartlett from Consumer Reports. Bartlett provides us with seven tips to avoid hitting deer. Here they are: 1) Slow down, 2) Be aware, 3) Be alert, 4) Brake, don’t swerve, 5) Assume they have friends, 6) Don’t rely on deer whistles, and 7) Buckle up. For Bartlett, these tips are important due to alarming statistics about collisions with wildlife, especially deer. He references The State Farm insurance company where they say that they estimate “over 2 million animal collision industry claims for the past year” (Bartlett). This means that there has been an increase of 7.2 percent over the previous 12 months, a truly, shocking, eye-opening, and disheartening statistic. He goes on to add that deer are not the only ones on the road to look out for, but he stresses that the Fall is one of the most active seasons for deer, making it more important to be wary of what lies ahead in the road. His final suggestion that he leaves us is to make sure that we use our high beams when deer are most active, which is “at dawn between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.,” and by doing this, we can see deer before it is too late because about 20 percent of motor vehicle deaths were a result of leaving a lane or losing control due to trying to avoid an animal according to The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (Bartlett).
My final takeaways are that we can save a deer’s life by driving safely and with more caution. However, I do realize that accidents happen, and sometimes these tragic circumstances are inevitable. Yet, all I ask anyone to do the next time that they are out on the road is to mind the speed limit and to think about the deers.
Keep calm, drive safely, and save the deers.
Melanie Moyer '22,