Missouri Department of Transportation urges caution with deer on roads

Almost 4,000 drivers collided with deer last year on Missouri highways

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The Missouri Department of Transportation is advising drivers to stay cautious when it comes to deer on Missouri roads.

In 2012, almost 4,000 drivers collided with deer last year on state highways. Five of those people were killed.

Currently, it's the middle of deer mating season and that means bucks are out seeking mates and maturing fawns are leaving their mothers.

At the same time, farmers are harvesting corn and beans, and that's driving deer into open areas like highways.

MoDOT says staying alert, slowing down and buckling up will be your biggest protection against deer-related crashes.

Engineer Travis Koestner says car crashes with deer are so prevalent simply because they are wild animals.

"They're unpredictable," he said. "Like any wild animal, you never know where they're going to go."

Koestner says if you see a deer in the road ahead of you, don't swerve or sound your horn because it will just startle it. Instead, slow down or stop until the animal passes. But, some deer collisions are just unavoidable.

"It's really an unfortunate accident any time, so we rally encourage people to wear their seat belts and pay attention to the road. Put the phones down," said Koestner.

MoDOT is asking drivers to be extra careful during fall evenings since 96 percent of deer-car collisions happen at night.

"Really, from those peak times, about five in the evening to about seven in the morning is when we really see the deer hits take place," said Koestner.

In order to see farther, MoDOT advises drivers to flip on your high beams when there are no cars approaching so that you may be able to see the animals earlier.

It's not just in the country roads where people hit deer either. Many crashes actually happen in city perimeters.

"Areas like Columbia, right around Jefferson City. You may be in an urbanized area, but don't let that catch you off guard. There's still a lot of deer in these areas that may be a little more used to people and used to traffic," said Koestner.

Jefferson City made the top 10 cities in Missouri with deer crashes last year. It ties fifth with Maryland Heights at 30 crashes.

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