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2010-10-21 digital edition

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2010-10-21 / General Stories

TxDOT Cautions Motorists To Watch Out For Deer

Along with cooler weather, fall months bring about an increase in deer activity. As a result, Texas motorists should keep a close watch for animals that occasionally wander onto the highway, especially at night.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), more than seven-thousand animal related crashes occurred on Texas highways in 2009, many involving deer. Twenty-five of those crashes involved a fatality.

While a crash involving a deer can happen at any time, the majority of deer-vehicle collisions occur between the months of October and December, when deer activity increases due to the mating and hunting seasons.

Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) biologists predict an increase in deer population this year because of plenty of rain that has created an ideal environment for wildlife to flourish.

Vehicle-deer accidents tally to more than 1.5 million crashes in the United States, costing an estimated $1.1 billion in vehicle damage, according to recent reports from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The Institute suggests the following defensive driving tips to avoid hitting a deer:

* Drive carefully in areas known to have high deer populations. Places where roads divide agricultural fields from forestland are particularly dangerous.

* If you see a deer, slow down. Others are probably nearby.

* Use high-beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic. The high beams will reflect off deer’s eyes and warn you of their presence.

* If a deer is in your lane, brake firmly but stay in the lane. The most serious crashes occur when drivers swerve.

* Do not rely on deer whistles, deer fences or reflectors to deter deer.

* Wear seat belts.

* If your car strikes a deer, do not touch the animal. If the deer is blocking the highway, call the police.

“Drivers need to stay focused and alert at all times, but especially at this time of year when deer activity increases,” says TxDOT spokesman John Hurt. “We make the switch back to Central Standard Time on November 7, so it will be dark earlier which increases the risk of a vehicle-deer collision. Such accidents are especially hazardous to motorcyclists.”

In the 11-county Central Texas area there were approximately 15,300 reported crashes on the state highway system in 2009 that involved at least an injury or resulted in a towed vehicle due to damage. Approximately 2.5% of those mishaps involved collisions with animals.

Remember, it is unlawful to possess a deer or part of a deer that has been hit by a motor vehicle. For more information on fish and wildlife laws, go to http:// www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/ annual/general/penalties/.

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