Jeremy Thurman on October 18, 2010
With the cooler weather approaching, Oklahomans would be aware of the real dangers of deer-automobile collisions. In 2009, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported 194 injury accidents involving deer and six of those accidents resulting in human fatalities. These figures are a drastic increase from the 2008 report of 86 injury accidents with two human fatalities. One simple explanation for the rise in these types of accidents is that humans are moving more and more into deer habitat. This encroachment forces deer to find new areas for food and water, which can push them to cross country roads to interstates. Another explanation is the deer population overall is growing in the state of Oklahoma according to Oklahoma Game & Fish Magazine. The fall season is more common for deer-auto collisions because it’s mating season for deer. Additionally, the food sources for deer change in the autumn from grassy plains to wooded areas with nuts and hardier foliage. Last but not least, hunting season in Oklahoma starts in October causing deer to move more frequently.
How can you prepare yourself?
Some general knowledge about deer can help. For example, deer are mainly active at dawn and dusk, and travel in numbers ranging from two deer on up to twenty. Therefore, you should be on the look-out on the way to work or school in the mornings and late evenings. Also be sure and scan not only the road, but the grassy areas on the side of the road. Try to use your high-beam headlights as much as possible to enable you to see the deer and the deer to be alert to your presence. Don’t rely solely on the deer whistles you may have mounted on your car, they are not 100% protection against a collision.
Remember, you may not be able to avoid a collision with a deer because swerving your vehicle could be more dangerous. For instance, you could swerve into on-coming traffic and cause a more serious collision with another vehicle. Or on the other hand, you could lose control of your vehicle and cause greater damage to yourself than was necessary. Deer are very unpredictable animals and there is no way to know which direction they will turn. The best advice is to slow down when you see the animal on the side of the road.