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Officials Warn Drivers About Deer-Vehicle Collisions
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For Immediate Release:  Thursday, November 14, 2013

Contact: Kristi Sandal, Public Information Officer, 605.773.3265


Officials Warn Drivers About Deer-Vehicle Collisions


PIERRE, S.D. – The state departments of Transportation and Public Safety are urging drivers to take extra precautions to avoid wildlife related automobile collisions this fall and winter when deer are the most active.


“The potential for serious animal-vehicle collisions increases this time of year because deer are on the move,” says Secretary of Transportation Darin Bergquist. “As we gear up for the holidays, we want to remind travelers to drive carefully and take extra precautions.”


According to the Office of Highway Safety, there are approximately 4,800 wild animal hits each year. Between 2004 and 2012, there were 17 fatalities and 824 people injured in wild animal-vehicle collisions.


“While deer-vehicle collisions cause extensive vehicle damage, most of the serious injuries and fatalities are caused by drivers taking evasive actions”, says Col. Craig Price, superintendent of the South Dakota Highway Patrol. “Drivers need to avoid swerving into oncoming traffic or leaving the roadway.”


Price advises motorists facing an unavoidable crash with a deer to apply the brakes firmly, hold on to the steering wheel, stay in their lane of traffic and bring the vehicle to a controlled stop.


Drivers can improve their safety by following these suggestions:


  • Wear your seat belt. This is your best defense of avoiding injury in a collision.
  • Slow down and prepare to stop as soon as you see a deer or other animal. It is much safer to stop than to have to take evasive action.
  • Increase the distance between your vehicle and other cars, especially at night.
  • When you see a deer, look for additional deer on both sides of the highway. Deer are herd animals and frequently move in groups. For maximum safety, assume the deer will cross your path.
  • Drive with your high beams on and watch for eyes reflecting in the headlights.
  • If you see a deer near the road, give your horn one long blast. The sound gives the animal an audible signal to avoid.
  • Deer are nocturnal and tend to travel at dawn and at dusk, which is also the time it is most difficult to see them.
  • If you hit a deer, call 9-1-1. Law enforcement officers will assist with injuries and write a report to provide to your insurance company.

State law says any person who wishes to take possession of a deer or antelope killed by a motor vehicle on a state highway must notify a conservation officer to obtain permission before taking possession of the animal.

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