The Mississippi Department of Transportation warns drivers to be alert to the increase in deer activity around roads and highways in the fall.
“Mississippi averages over 3,700 reported deer-related crashes per year,” said MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath. “Hitting a deer can be a very costly expense and sometimes it can cause a life-threatening accident.”
MDOT reported Wednesday that there were 4,058 reported deer-related crashes in Mississippi last year. One insurance industry analysis cautioned that there are many deer-related crashes that occur and are not reported, so the actual number could actually be closer to 22,000.
A National Highway Safety Administration survey report showed that there are approximately 1.5 million collisions with deer in the United States each year with an annual cost of more $1 billion in vehicle damage. Between 175-200 people die in car vs. deer accidents each year, according to the report. While these accidents may happen at any time of the year, they typically take place between October-December.
“Deer are unpredictable, especially when frightened,” McGrath said. “Drivers should remain vigilant, avoid distractions and wear their seat belt.”
MDOT said the peak season for deer in Mississippi is from October through January, but deer near highways may take place at any time of the year.
Tips to remember about dealing with deer on the roads:
- 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 the 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.”