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Cars vs. Deers - Both Lose

October 23, 1995
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri motorists should start thinking about deer, for one estimate puts their costs to motorists at $16 million per year in the state.

Automobile accidents involving deer are estimated to be in excess of $16 million each year, said Calvin Call, executive director of Missouri Insurance Information Service - a public relations service of the insurance industry.

November is the month when the greatest number of vehicle accidents involving deer occur, Call said.

Last year, there were two people killed and 352 people injured as a result of vehical accidents with animals, Call said.

One reason there are more automobile accidents in November involving deer is because it's deer mating season.

"Males have little else on their minds," said DeeCee Darrow, wildlife programs supervisor to the Missouri Conservation Department. "They are not as watchful as they might normally be."

While the Conservation Department estimates there were 8,351 vehicle accidents involving deer in 1994, Darrow said there wouldn't be a significant effect on the deer population in any one place.

"It's significant in the danger the deer accidents pose to people and property damage," said Darrow.

Keeping certain things in mind can help avoid vehicle/ deer accidents, Darrow said.

If you see one deer, there could easily be one or more following that could quickly dart out onto the road, Darrow said.

Another reason more accidents occur in fall is because the deer are moving - deer season is beginning.

"If you were being shot at, you'd run too," Call said.

The crop harvest causes extra noise, which causes the deer to migrate as well.

There are certain measures a driver can take to avoid deer, and consequently, an accident, such as watching the sides of the road, Darrow said.

Experts listed these safety tips to help drivers avoid deer.

* Drivers should be alert in the early morning and evening.

* Motorists should be more cautious when driving wooded areas, especially in agricultural areas.

* Deer are often dazed or confused by vehicle headlights. Drivers should reduce speed, tap the brakes to alert other vehicles, and try to scare the deer by flashing lights, or sounding the horn.

* If you see one deer, it is likely others will be following.

* Steer straight ahead, instead of trying to avoid the deer, because you can lose control and collide with oncoming traffic or hit an object off the road.