Our Opinion: Look out for deer in the headlights

Crashes and injuries and auto damage — oh deer!

Law enforcement officers, and auto mechanics, are warning motorists of a different kind of deer season — one that doesn’t involve hunting.

Deer are more active and more likely to cross roadways from October through December, for a range of reasons.

One involves nature. This is mating season for deer, a time when they become more active. Their activity is not confined to rural areas. More than 25 percent of traffic crashes involving deer occur in urban areas.

In addition, autumn activities including hunting and crop harvesting may alarm the animals and cause them to bolt.

Motorists are advised to remain vigilant, particularly in areas deer are known to frequent and between the hours of 5 p.m. and 7 a.m., when most accidents occur. Deer are herd animals, so the sight of one indicates more may be following or in the area.

Auto shop workers suggest drivers use high beams, when appropriate. If a collision occurs, motorists are advised not to continue driving if liquids are leaking from the front of the vehicle.

Collisions with deer typically cause between $2,500 and $3,500, but auto damage is not the most severe consequence.

The Missouri Highway Patrol reports 411 people were injured and five killed in deer-vehicle crashes in 2012.

And the frequency of those strikes is notable. Last year, Missouri logged 3,980 vehicle accidents involving deer, which translates into one every 2.2 hours.

Deer may be beautiful animals, but they pose a hazard to motorists this time of year.

Buckle up, be alert and proceed with caution.

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