• 46°

Be alert, stay safe driving in deer season

It’s that time of year again — deer are getting more active and more likely to be near roadways. That means there is a greater chance of hitting one.

“Mississippi averages over 3,600 reported deer-related crashes per year,” said Melinda McGrath, MDOT executive director. “Hitting a deer can be a very costly expense and sometimes it can cause a life-threatening accident.”

In 2018, there were 3,855 reported deer-related crashes in Mississippi. However, the number of incidents could be as high as 22,000 according to one insurance industry analysis, MDOT said.

Motorists should be aware of animals near the road and have a plan of action if one crosses their path. The best advice: keep calm and don’t panic.

“Deer are unpredictable, especially when frightened,” McGrath said. “Drivers should remain vigilant, avoid distractions and wear their seat belts.”

Below are a few safe-driving tips for avoiding a collision with Bambi.

• Don’t veer for deer. If a deer runs in front of a moving car, remain calm and brake firmly. Swerving can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles, causing an even more serious accident.

• Deer are herd animals. Take extra caution for deer lingering around the same area.

• Remain vigilant when driving at dawn and dusk. About 20 percent of crashes occur in early morning, while more than half occur between 5 p.m. and midnight.

• Always buckle up for safety and drive at a safe speed.

• At night use high beams, when no traffic is approaching, to illuminate the eyes of deer near the road. Make sure both headlights and high beams are cleaned and aimed correctly.   

“No matter if a driver is traveling rural roads or busy highways, the threat of hitting a deer while driving is very real,” McGrath said.  “All motorists should take extra precautions during deer season to ensure their safety while traveling.”