Colonel Eric T. Olson, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, reminds drivers that deer are more active and create hazards for Missouri motorists this time of year. Drivers are reminded that an attempt to avoid striking a deer could result in a more serious crash involving oncoming traffic. Try to remain calm. Panicking and overreacting usually lead to more serious traffic crashes. As soon as you see a deer, the best course of action is to reduce your speed. Other drivers may be doing the same, so be sure to pay attention to traffic patterns.
Last year, drivers in Missouri experienced 4,090 traffic crashes where deer-vehicle strikes occurred. One deer strike occurred every 2.1 hours in the state. In these crashes, there were six fatalities and 415 people were injured. The majority of deer strike crashes occur in October and November each year, with the largest number taking place in November. Although deer strikes can occur at any time, most occur between the hours of 5 a.m. and 6:59 a.m., and then again from 6 p.m. to 8:59 p.m.
Remember: Rural areas are not the only place where deer/vehicle strikes occur. When you see a deer, slow down and proceed with caution. Deer often travel in groups–stay on guard after a close call or when you see a single deer. Natural features also affect deer movement. In areas where there are streams or wooded corridors surrounded by farmland, look for more deer to cross roadways. At night, watch for deer eyes to reflect your headlights, which could give you more time to react to their presence.
Deer behavior changes due to mating season, which may cause an increase in sightings and roadway crossings. Hunting and crop harvesting may result in these animals being in places they aren’t usually seen. Drivers are urged to remain alert. If you strike a deer, call 9-1-1 or *55 on a cell phone and report it.
The only 100 percent survivable traffic crash is the one that never happens. Make sure everyone in the vehicle is properly restrained in a seat belt or child restraint. Every day as we travel on Missouri’s roadways, we trust that every driver on the road is going to obey the speed limit, pay attention, and drive sober. “Don’t Violate The Trust.”
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