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More deer found in drivers' lights

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

By KYLE W. MORRISON

Southeast Missourian

As deer mating season begins, drivers throughout the state are urged to pay more attention on the roadways because the deer won't be.

Nearly half the 3,506 deer-related accidents in Missouri during 2005 occurred in the three-month period between October and December, according to Missouri State Highway Patrol Lt. John Hotz.

November alone had 22.3 percent of the total deer-related accidents, which are defined as either a vehicle striking a deer or an accident that occurs while trying to avoid hitting a deer.

In 2005, Cape Girardeau County ranked 15th in the state in the number of deer-related accidents with 59.

The deer mating season is the most likely reason for such an increase in late fall and early winter accidents, said A.J. Hendershott, Missouri Department of Conservation regional supervisor for Southeast Missouri.

"A buck will chase a doe, and their attention is primarily on their chase and not on their surroundings as much," he said.

Another factor in the increase of deer-related accidents in the fall could be the annual changeover from daylight-saving time.

"Deer are very active around dusk and dawn," Hotz said. "There could be more people traveling to and from work during those periods."

Because dusk comes an hour earlier, more deer are likely to be seen by motorists. "It affects our pattern a little bit," Hendershott said.

Hotz stressed that drivers should play closer attention on roadways, even in urban areas, and not to overreact when a deer is seen.

Deer-related accidents commonly occur when a driver swerves to avoid the animal and ends up rolling the vehicle or striking another car, Hotz said. More damage is done by swerving away from the deer rather than just hitting it, he said.

If a motorist is going to hit the deer, Hotz cautioned the driver not to stop too suddenly and lock the vehicle's brakes. When a vehicle's brakes lock, the front end of the car moves closer to the pavement. When a deer is struck by such a vehicle, its legs hit the bumper and the body crashes into the windshield, Hotz said.

A better way to handle the situation is to drive and brake slower, Hotz said.

kmorrison@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

By the numbers

* 3,506: Number of deer-related accidents in Missouri for 2005

* 47.3: Percent of those accidents which occurred in October through December

* 22.3: Percent of total accidents which occurred in November alone.

Source: Missouri State Highway Patrol

By the numbers

* 3,506: Number of deer-related accidents in Missouri for 2005

* 47.3: Percent of those accidents which occurred in October through December

* 22.3: Percent of total accidents which occurred in November alone.

SOURCE: Missouri State Highway Patrol


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