As the seasons slowly change into autumn, the days get shorter, and deer become more active and visible on Mississippi roadways. The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) reminds motorists to take precautions to avoid collisions with deer.
According to Melinda McGrath, P.E., MDOT executive director, Mississippi averages over 3,700 reported deer-related crashes per year. Hitting a deer can be a very costly expense and sometimes it can cause a life-threatening accident.
In 2019, there were 4,058 reported deer-related crashes in Mississippi. However, the number of incidents could be as high as 22,000, according to one insurance industry analysis.
Motorists should be aware of large animals near the road and have a plan of action. Keeping calm and driving smart improve drivers’ chances of avoiding collisions and staying safe on the road.
Deer are unpredictable, especially when frightened. Drivers should remain vigilant, avoid distractions and wear their seat belt, McGrath said.
Though deer season peaks from October through January, remember that deer can run on or near roadways at any time of the year. Practice safe driving at all times and keep these precautions in mind to help get through this time of year accident-free.
- 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.
McGrath said no matter if a driver is traveling rural roads or busy highways, the threat of hitting a deer while driving is very real. All motorists should take extra precautions during deer season to ensure their safety while traveling.
MDOT urges motorists to avoid distracted driving and buckle up for safety when traveling Mississippi’s highways and roadways during deer season.