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Last updated on Monday, September 30, 2013
(UNDATED) - As days shorten, drivers should be extra cautious because their chances of encountering deer on roadways increase significantly.
Nearly 50 percent of all vehicle accidents involving white-tailed deer occur between October and December, according to Chad Stewart, deer research biologist for the DNR. With their breeding season approaching, deer become more active in the fall. This leads them to encounter roads more frequently, increasing the opportunity for a collision.
Indiana Crash Facts, an annual report compiled by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, Center for Criminal Justice Research and the IUPUI School of Public & Environmental Affairs, reported 15,205 deer-related collisions in 2011, the most recent year for which statistics were available.
"With the number of deer and the number of vehicles out there, deer-vehicle accidents will happen," Stewart said. "The best thing drivers can do is to take measures to keep them to a minimum."
Knowing the following information and practicing defensive driving will help reduce your chances of becoming a deer-vehicle collision statistic:
Drivers should pay attention to traffic signs warning of deer crossings and may want to steer clear of gimmicks sold to keep deer away.
"Deer crossing signs have proved effective, but motorists tend to get acclimated to such signs, and their efficiency can be reduced over time," Stewart said. "Fancy whistles or reflectors can be placed on your car to scare deer away, but truth be told, they are not proven to be effective."
Stewart said that even when practicing safe driving, sometimes hitting a deer is inevitable. Caution is also the best approach after the fact.
"If you hit a deer, remain calm," he said. "Do not approach the deer unless you are sure it has expired. Despite their gentle nature, their hooves are sharp and powerful, and can be extremely dangerous."
Stewart said that, like cars and people, deer can be found anywhere, so drivers should be on the lookout no matter where they are.
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