Mating season: Keep an eye out for deer

Deer in Cape Girardeau (Source: John Broeckling, KFVS).
Deer in Cape Girardeau (Source: John Broeckling, KFVS).

MISSOURI (KFVS) - This is the time of year when deer are more active and create hazards for Heartland drivers and Colonel Sandra K. Karsten, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, wants to remind drivers to keep an eye out.

The Illinois Department of Transportation and Illinois Department of Natural Resources warn drivers to be vigilant during mating season as deer will be more active and visible throughout the state.

State Farm reports the average cost of deer collisions in 2016 was close to $4,000.

According to Illinois state officials,  41 percent of crashes in Illinois involving deer in 2016 occurred in October, November, and December. November was the highest-risk month.

In 2016, there were 14,759 vehicle crashes involving deer in Illinois. More than 1,000 crashes less than the 2015 total.

In 2016 drivers in Missouri experienced 4,604 traffic crashes where deer-vehicle strikes occurred. One deer strike occurred every 1.9 hours in the state. There were six fatalities and 455 people were injured.

Reminders from The Missouri State Highway Patrol:

  • Attempting 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.
  • The majority of deer strike crashes occur in October and November each year, with the largest number taking place in November.
  • Most deer strikes occur between the hours of 5 p.m. and 6:59 a.m.

Reminders from the State of Illinois to follow regarding safe driving tips during deer mating season:

  • Be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to deer crossing signs.
  • Scan the sides of the road for eye shine – the reflection of headlights in the eyes.
  • Slow down if you see deer.  They travel in groups, so more are likely in the area.
  • Prepare for the unexpected. Deer can stop in the middle of the road or double back.
  • If a collision is inevitable, try to glance the vehicle off the deer and avoid swerving into the opposite lanes of traffic.

More safe driving tips from the University of Illinois Extension can be found here:

Officials said rural areas are not the only place where deer-vehicle strikes occur and if you see one, slow down and proceed with caution.

If you see a single deer, stay on guard after a close call because they normally travel in groups. In areas where there are streams or wooded corridors surrounded by farmland, look for more deer to cross roadways. 

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.

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