Motorists should watch out for deer

AAA is warning Oklahoma motorists that now through November is the most likely time for collisions involving motor vehicles and deer.

“Cooler autumn temperatures signal the start of deer mating season, a time when deer can be especially unpredictable,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “It’s important for drivers to stay alert, limit distractions and expect the unexpected.”

In Oklahoma last year, AAA Insurance reports a total of 307 auto claims (up from 234 in 2013) that were identified as animal-related, averaging $3,404 per claim.

In 2011, the latest year for which Oklahoma deer crash statistics are available, there were 467 reported crashes involving deer, resulting in two fatalities and 184 people injured, according to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office (OHSO).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports there are about one million vehicle crashes with deer each year. These collisions typically kill about 200 Americans, cause more than 10,000 personal injuries and result in $1 billion in vehicle damage.

Deer are most active between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. and from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., but deer have been known to dart into roadways at other times, also.

If you see a deer, AAA Oklahoma advises you to slow down – where there’s one, there likely are others.

The OHSO reports:

  • 60 percent of deer-involved crashes occurred at night
  • 73 percent took place in a rural area
  • 95 percent of crashes involved deer and just one vehicle

Tips from AAA to improve safety for both motorists and deer:

  • Keep your eyes moving back and forth. Continuously sweep your eyes across the road in front of you for signs of animals and movement. Animals may also be alongside the road, so make sure to look to the right and left, as well. While the most likely accident is you hitting an animal, on occasion they might also hit you by running into the side of your car.
  • Use high beams when there’s no oncoming traffic. You can spot animals sooner. Sometimes the light reflecting off their eyes will reveal their location.
  • Slow down around curves. It’s harder to spot animals down the road when going around curves.
  • One long blast. A long blast on your horn may frighten animals away from your vehicle.
  • Use brakes if an impact is imminent. Don’t swerve. Instead, stay in your lane. Swerving away from animals can confuse them so they don’t know which way to run. It can also put you in the path of oncoming vehicles or cause you to crash into something like a lamppost or a tree.
  • After the crash, stay away. Don’t go near an animal if it’s hurt. Wounded animals are unpredictable and have the capacity to attack you.