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President’s Safety Moment: Deer-Vehicle Collisions

Join Our Commitment to Safety in Scouting

The BSA’s commitment to safety is continuous and unwavering. Although few youth organizations encompass the breadth, volume, and diversity of physical activity common to Scouting, our safety record is second to none because of our steadfast commitment to safety.

In order to keep safety top of mind, the National organization as well as the Montana Council encourages all leaders to start every meeting and activity with a Safety Moment. Safety Moments are opportunities to reinforce that the safety of Scouts and Scouters in the Boy Scouts of America is the top priority. A Safety Moment focuses the unit, volunteers or staff on safety and how to achieve it.

Who can deliver a Safety Moment? Everyone can deliver Safety Moments in Scouting.

Any adult leader, Scout, or employee can step up with little preparation to make a SAFE difference to everyone participating. What makes an excellent Safety Moment topic? Any topic that focuses on improving the safety of Scouting. The BSA regularly publishes Safety Moments on a variety of topics. Other topics could include the use of the SAFE Checklist or the Guide to Safe Scouting. Safety Moments are best used at the beginning of meetings or before a Scouting activity.

At a recent Council Executive board meeting, I delivered a safety moment concerning deer-vehicle collisions; a common occurrence in Montana- especially at this time of year.

Excerpts from a 2020 article that appeared in the Great Falls Tribune report some somber statistics with respect to deer-vehicle collisions and confirm the fact that hitting a deer is almost a rite of passage for most Montanans.

According to data recently compiled by the State Farm Insurance Co., Montana ranks second in the nation for animal collisions among drivers.  “Montana drivers reported more than 17,000 industry claims involving an animal in just one year,” the insurance company’s report states. “In a state that has more than 806,000 licensed drivers,1 in every 47 drivers have a chance of colliding with an animal while driving.”  The only state in which motorists have a greater likelihood of striking an animal is West Virginia, where 1 in every 37 motorists filed a claim.

While the report includes statistics for 41 species of animals, deer are far and away the most common species struck on U.S. roadways. Out of nearly 2 million animal strikes reported, more than three-quarters (1.56 million) involved colliding with a deer.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety notes that deer-vehicle collisions in the U.S. cause more than 200 fatalities annually.

​Tips from the Insurance Information Institute, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety on how to reduce of colliding with an animal on the roadway include the following:

– Always wear your seatbelt. Seatbelts are proven to save lives in a crash.

– Drive with extra caution when traveling through animal-crossing zones, in areas known to have a large wildlife population and in areas where roads divide agricultural fields from forestland.

– Travel at a speed that will allow you to stop in time if a deer comes into the beam cast by your headlights. Give the animal time and room to move off the road – don’t try to outrun it.

–  When driving at night, use high-beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic. The high beams will better illuminate the eyes of any deer on or near the roadway.  If you encounter a deer or other animal, switch your headlights to low beam so the animals are not blinded and will move out of your way.

–  Be especially attentive from sunset to midnight and shortly before or after sunrise. These are the highest-risk times for collisions when animals are on the move and driver visibility is affected.

– Avoid swerving when you see an animal. Brake firmly when you notice an animal in or near your path, but stay in your lane. Many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or lose control of their cars.

Yours in Scouting

Greg Beach
Montana Council Board President


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