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Deer a hazard this time of year

October 9, 2012
The Herald-Star

Vehicle accidents involving deer accounted for 15 percent of the crashes in Jefferson and Harrison counties that were investigated by the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Deer crashes peak in October, November and December, so the time has arrived to be extra cautious.

The deer herd population in Ohio is estimated at around 750,000. Just 20 years ago the number of deer in Ohio totaled about 150,000.

The counties in Ohio that have the highest number of deer crashes also rank high in the number of residents. The odds of striking a deer depend on the number of cars on the road.

Deer collisions for West Virginia drivers continue to rank near the top of the state-by-state list. State Farm Insurance last year estimated a West Virginia driver has a one in 53 chance of striking a deer during the year. The odds in Ohio were one in 131.

Insurance industry experts estimate a deer crash costs an average of about $3,100 in repairs.

The 142 deer crashes in 2011 in Jefferson and Harrison counties resulted in nine injuries, according to the patrol.

Deer are beginning to get active with the approaching mating season and will be foraging for food for the winter months.

Drivers need to be alert for deer, especially at dawn and after sunset. These are the riskiest times for deer-vehicle collisions.

Drive with extreme caution when traveling through deer-crossing zones, in areas known to have a large deer population and in areas where roads divide agricultural fields from wooded areas.

Deer at this time of the year seldom run alone. Seeing one deer usually means there are others nearby. If a deer crosses the road in front of your vehicle, chances are another will try to follow

When driving at night, use high-beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic. High beams will better illuminate the eyes of deer standing on or near the roadway.

If a deer is seen on or near the road, slow down and blow your horn with one long blast to try to scare the deer away.

Don't swerve your vehicle to avoid striking a deer.

It is actually better to hit the deer while maintaining full control of the vehicle than to try swerve out of the way. The Ohio State Highway Patrol notes more people are injured in wrecks because the driver tried to avoid the deer and ended up hitting another vehicle or going off the road into a ditch or a tree.

If you are involved in a deer crash, pull off to the side of the road and call the highway patrol or local police. Don't approach the deer if it is still in the road.

The mild winter last year probably means the deer population increased, and that is not good news for area drivers.

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