Motorists urged to be on lookout for deer

Friday, November 9, 2001

With the fall firearms deer season opening Saturday morning, deer are at their most prevalent and prove to be a hazard for drivers this time of year.

According to Brent Butler of the Missouri Insurance Information Service, the highest number of auto accidents involving deer usually occur in October and November.

"Annually, there are more than 8,000 deer/vehicle accidents in Missouri," Butler noted. "Statistics show that the majority of all deer/vehicle accidents in Missouri occur during the fall of the year."

"Behavioral changes, especially increased activity associated with the 'rut' or mating season, crop harvesting, bow hunting and firearms hunting seasons are contributing factors," he added.

The Missouri Department of Conservation, along with the insurance industry, have assembled a list of safety tips to help reduce the number of deer-related accidents.

Those suggestions include:

* As deer activity is highest during dusk and dawn, drivers should be particularly alert in mornings and evenings.

* Motorists should drive defensively when approaching wooded draws or creek bottoms that intersect highways, especially in agricultural settings.

* Drivers should be on the lookout on newly constructed roads.

* Drivers should scan the road for deer as they drive and, if at night, look for deer eye reflections.

* When a deer is spotted, drivers should reduce their speed but use emergency flashers or pump the brakes to alert vehicles approaching from behind and try to scare deer away by flashing lights or sounding the horn.

* If a deer is spotted, drivers should reduce speed as they are social animals and often travel in family groups so it is likely to follow.

* Drivers should steer straight rather than risk losing control and colliding with oncoming traffic or hitting objects off the road.

"Many deer/vehicle accidents could be prevented if drivers were aware of how to react when deer are observed on roadsides," Butler said. "The most severe deer-related accidents often do not actually involve impact with a deer but result while trying to avoid the animal."

The Saline County Sheriff's Department has been busy already this fall fielding calls concerning deer/vehicle accidents.

"It seems we've been having repeated calls of people striking deer," said SCSD Communications Officer Larry Webster. "We had one struck on 240 East (Wednesday) morning."

"The main thing is you have to be very careful and very observant with your peripheral vision," he added. "Right now they're rutting so they're in a frenzy. They've lost their senses."

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