Deer In The Headlights?

Published 2:39 pm Thursday, July 7, 2011

The sun had gone down as I drove along Pleasant Valley Road in Cumberland. The curtain was drawing on a summer day. My daughter and I were heading home from mom and dad's house when, as I approached the intersection at Raines Tavern Road, the headlights illuminated a beautiful doe next to a fence beside the hard-surfaced country road.

Deer are gorgeous creatures, but no one wants to see them in front of their vehicle-daytime, nighttime, or any time.

I slowed down, of course. You just never know whether a deer will select option one (turn and go the other way), two (wait for the car to pass) or three (jut out in front of the vehicle in time to take out a fender and grill and leave an insurance nightmare-not to mention the pain it would cause the deer).

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As I creeped past the majestic animal to the right, my eyes began to fix on the headlights of another vehicle that had just turned onto Pleasant Valley Road, knowing that I would soon meet them as we traveled in opposite directions.

And they just might possibly see the same deer standing on the side of the road that still had all her options under hoof.

How could I warn them?

Ultimately, drivers are supposed to be aware of their surroundings, I guess, but a dust of prevention is worth more than the pain and cure.

Now there are plenty of warning signs motorists can, and do exercise like a few quick switches between high and low beam lights, but that typically means that there might be blue lights up ahead or the other driver thinks you're high beaming them.

In either case, it might translate into a momentary coast of confusion, but perhaps not emit that possible danger lurks ahead. The approaching driver may simply lift the foot for a second or two and pause in puzzlement.

It may be enough to make them aware enough to look for danger, but blinking lights alone could spook the deer into traffic.

I could possibly switch on the emergency flashers, but that is a warning sign that you're moving slow, not that there's a deer up ahead possibly ready to wreak some damage.

And tapping the horn-well that might send the deer in front of an oncoming car, too.

Ultimately, as I stared down the oncoming vehicle in the few seconds to think about it, I really couldn't come up with an appropriate method to convey the concern-effectively leaving them to take their chances just like I had. Still, I wanted, and still want to do, more.

But what?

Even though I've had more time and thought since then, it's still a conundrum. So I'm interested to hear your suggestions.

This is not the first occasion that the crossing deer issue has come up and-unless the entire deer population disappears tomorrow-won't be the last.

I'd like to hear from you-what are your suggestions for a universal warning to tip off approaching motorists of a deer danger?

Facebook The Herald or email and give us a suggestion. The life you save might be the deer's, and the fender you rescue could be yours.

Or even mine.