Milk Maid

Oh, Deer! Watch out on the road

Imagine you are driving down at the road at night and you suddenly see two round things staring at you. As you get closer, you quickly slam on your brakes because those two round things staring at you belong to a darting deer that you crossed paths with.

You luckily avoid the deer this time but next time you may not be so lucky. Chances are that you know someone that has used their vehicle as a vessel for a fast venison dinner.

November is the peak time for deer vehicle crashes in Minnesota, so motorists should watch for them and drive cautiously, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

I personally have never hit a deer, but I have hit a pheasant. I have a friend that has hit two deer, a pheasant and a cow all with the same vehicle.

After several times in the shop, good old Esther (the car’s name) is still on the road, mostly avoiding deer and other animals. The main reason for the increase in vehicle crashes is that the deer mating season occurs in November.

Increased deer movement coupled with a reduction in daylight hours increase a driver’s chances of a deer encounter on the roadways.

Deer are more likely to be encountered in areas where habitat is close to the roadway, such as a bridge crossing over waterways, and during the early morning and evening hours when deer are most active.

From 2013 to 2015, there were 6,149 reported deer-vehicle crashes, according to the Department of Public Safety. There were 15 fatalities and 944 injuries.

Crashes were reported in every county in the state. So far this year, there have been four motorcycle crashes with deer, with five fatalities reported.

Last week, as I was watching the news, they showed a video from a dash camera of a Sheriff’s Deputy in Isanti County, Minnesota that hit a deer while on patrol. The video was incredible because the deputy hit the deer going over 100 miles an hour.

The hood of the car went into the deputy’s windshield but he was ok. A deer collision report released annually by State Farm Insurance states that Minnesota ranks seventh among the 50 states in how likely motorists are to hit a deer.

The company said that 1-in-74 motorists will hit a deer or other large animal this year.

For those driving MnDOT offers these tips to avoid deer:

• Be particularly alert in the fall and spring. More than half of the crashes happen in late October and November when deer are mating, and in May and June during the birthing season.

• Be vigilant at dusk and at dawn. A high percentage of crashes occur during the low-light or dark hours of the day when deer move between daytime bedding sites and evening feeding areas.

• Slow down and scan the sides of the road and ditches for animals when driving through forested lands or near river and stream banks.

• Drive defensively and expect the unexpected.

• Don’t swerve. • Motorcyclists should avoid night and low-light riding times. Living in prime deer habitats makes it almost inevitable that you’ll encounter a deer at some point.

If you do, try to remember MnDOT’s tips. Hopefully, your car will be as lucky as good old Esther.

Brittany Moorse

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