During 2011, drivers in Missouri experienced 3,563 traffic crashes where deer-vehicle strikes occurred. One deer strike occurred every 2.5 hours in the state, according to state highway statistics. In these crashes, four people were killed and 367 injured, indicate state law enforcement officers.
Col. Ron Replogle, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, said deer are more active this time of year. "Drivers should be especially vigilant during evening and early dawn hours," he said.
"Deer behavior changes due to mating season, which may cause an increase in roadway crossings. Hunting and crop harvesting may result in these animals being in places they aren’t usually seen. Drivers are urged to remain alert."
The majority of deer strike crashes occur from October through December each year, with the largest number taking place in November. Most deer strikes occur between the hours of 5 p.m. and 6:59 a.m., he said.
Replogle said when motorists see deer, they should slow down and proceed with caution. "Deer often travel in groups—stay on guard after a close call or when you see one deer. Natural features also affect deer movement. In areas where there are streams or wooded corridors surrounded by farmland, look for more deer to cross roadways."
Rural areas are not the only place where deer/vehicle strikes occur. In 2011, 26.7 percent of the traffic crashes involving deer happened in urban areas, he said.
Missouri State Highway Patrol officers indicate drivers who attempt to avoid striking a deer could result in a more serious crash involving oncoming traffic. "Try to remain calm. Panicking and overreacting usually lead to more serious traffic crashes. Please stay alert, and make sure you and the occupants of your vehicle buckle up," said Replogle.