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Motorists Warned to Watch for Deer On The Move

December 11, 2003

Many welcome the sight of a deer up close during hunting season, but they would rather it not be in their headlights. Deer-vehicle collisions happen throughout the year; however, many occur during fall and winter seasons when deer are most active.

Collisions between deer and automobiles result in substantial costs which include vehicle damage, loss of wildlife, and human injuries or fatalities. Based on research conducted by the Insurance Information Institute, there were an estimated 480,000 deer strikes in 2002. Approximately 20,000 of those occurred in Alabama. The insurance industry paid out roughly $1 billion in deer-related claims for the year. The average cost per claim was $2,000.

“Deer are beautiful animals, but drivers need to be aware of the dangers they pose along Alabama highways,” said Corky Pugh, Director, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.  “Accidents can be prevented if drivers take proper precautions.”

Here are some helpful tips to help decrease the odds of a deer collision:

·        Be very alert. Most accidents occur between dusk and dawn.

·        Slow down to increase your response time.

·        Survey surrounding areas as you drive to increase your chances of spotting deer before they make it to the road.

·        Heed “deer crossing” signs. They indicate areas of frequent crossings.

·        When you see one deer, be on the lookout for more because they seldom travel alone.

·        If you observe deer standing in an area away from the road, realize that they can suddenly move onto the road.

·        Use your high beams if no traffic is approaching. They will illuminate the eyes of deer sooner than low beams, thus allowing greater reaction time.

·        Do not swerve to avoid a deer because you could lose control and strike another vehicle or leave the road and strike some other object.

Traffic accidents involving deer are not required to be reported to the Department of Conservation. If people are injured or if there is significant damage to vehicles or other property, the accident should be reported in the same manner as other accidents. Deer killed in traffic accidents may not be claimed by anyone unless granted permission by law enforcement authorities.

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