Our Opinion: It's that time of year to watch for deer

Fall is a beautiful time to enjoy looking at the fall foliage and viewing the wildlife. But it's that wildlife, deer in particular, that wreak havoc on motorists this time of year.

With the season change comes cooler temperatures and, for deer, mating season. Deer are more active and it's when the majority of vehicle collisions take place with them.

Last year, the Missouri State Highway Patrol reported 3,639 traffic crashes involving deer, which resulted in 348 injuries and five deaths. Most crashes involving deer happened around dawn and dusk in October and November.

Missouri is ranked 15th in the nation for potential deer collisions, according to a report from State Farm Insurance.

Through the end of October is prime time for deer-vehicle collisions. We recently saw three dead deer in close proximity along the roadside on Route B near Calvary Lutheran High School.

So we urge you to use an extra measure of caution the next two months. Slow down and follow the Missouri Department of Transportation's recommendation to scan both sides of the road when driving.

If you do see a deer, your first reaction might be to swerve. But this can result in a loss of control of your vehicle and potentially a worse outcome. If you can slow your car by braking, this is safer than swerving.

If a driver cannot avoid a collision and strikes a deer, MoDOT recommends notifying the department so crews can address debris that is a safety hazard.

If the animal carcass is in the driving or passing lane or on the shoulder, crews will move it to the outer portion of the right of way. If the carcass is on the shoulder, work crews will address the deer during normal work hours as it is not considered a safety hazard. If the deer carcass is not on the roadway, MoDOT will not pick it up unless it obstructs mail delivery, is in a neighborhood or near a bus stop.

Missouri also allows people with a wildlife dispensation permit to keep the deer carcass, as they have written authorization to possess the deer granted by a Missouri Department of Conservation agent. The permit is free and can be obtained through MDC.

Report deer or other roadway safety hazards to MoDOT at 1-888-ASK-MODOT.

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