Busy deer season spawns better chances for automobile accidents
Driving during the winter months can be especially dangerous due to an increase in deer movement. Deer-vehicle collisions are responsible for an average of 200 deaths and $1.1 billion in property damage every yearn nationally.
“I get about three or four claims a week from people who have hit a deer. Those are just my numbers. We have three other agents in here,” said Amory Farm Bureau agent Jay Gore.
White-tailed deer, the most common deer involved in deer-vehicle collisions, are steadily increasing in numbers and it’s currently estimated that 20 to 30 million deer populate North America.
This increase in the deer population combines the problem of roadways constructed in close and direct proximity to direct habitats, increasing the likelihood of a deer-vehicle collision.
“We see a lot of car versus deer and the deer usually win, especially during this time of year,” said Monroe County E911 deputy director Donna Sanderson.
Deer movement increases in winter months due to foraging for food and mating season, which typically falls between Dec. 31 and Jan. 14 for Monroe County.
The time of day can effect deer movement as well.
Deer movement is more frequent during the dusk and dawn hours deer when visibility is more difficult, making for especially more dangerous drive times.
Rural areas, and the highways and roadways within them, attract deer because they’re rendered as safe havens and excellent areas for foraging.
According to Mississippi Wildlife and Fisheries game warden Dean Hudson, it’s not uncommon to see 25 to 30 deer a night on Highway 8. At one point last year, Hudson’s entire family had each hit a deer.
“My daughter had hit one, then my wife and I had hit about three in the game warden trucks. I was completely out of vehicles,” Hudson said.
However, deer-vehicle collisions are not confined to these areas.
“In suburban areas, there are more roads and more traffic. This makes for a higher probability of a deer/vehicle collision,” said Dr. Bronson Strickland, wildlife ecology professor at Mississippi State.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office had several patrol cars damaged last year due to run-ins with deer.
“We had five or six cars that collided with deer last year. It was anywhere from $700 to $1,000 worth of damage each time. So far, we haven’t had any this year,” said Sheriff Cecil Cantrell.
Tips on deer/driver safety for this winter:
-Hunters in the woods tend to push the deer out, so be extra-cautious while driving on the weekends when more hunters are likely to be out.
-Be aware when driving in the early morning and evening hours as more deer feed during these times.
-Drive at a safe speed
-Always wear a seat belt
-Deer whistles and other products attached to a vehicle’s bumper act as an alarm system for deer may also provide some protection.
However, they have been widely studied and scrutinized. At this time, the United States government does not endorse them.
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About Emily Tubb
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