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JACKSON, MISS. One fall night while driving down a Mississippi road, a driver spots two eerie green eyes staring back into the glare of the headlights. What should a driver do when a deer merges onto a lane of the road that they are traveling in? How can drivers reach their destination safely with the threat of hitting a deer? The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) wants to answer all questions on how to drive safely during deer season.
When summer finally winds down and fall begins, deer start to move around and become more visible throughout the states roadways. The increase in vehicle-deer crashes in the fall and winter months is partially a result of higher traffic volumes, higher vehicle speed and shorter daylight hours.
Mississippi averages over 3,000 deer-related crashes per year, said MDOT executive director Melinda McGrath. Hitting a deer can be a very costly expense and sometimes it can be a life-threatening accident.
There is no way to control deer movement, but there are steps to take to minimize the chances of a collision while driving. MDOT offers these tips for all motorists:
• DO NOT SWERVE if a deer runs in front of a moving car. Swerving can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicle, causing an even more serious accident.
• Deer are pack animals. Take extra caution for deer lingering around in the same area.
• Pay attention 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, sensible 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.
No matter if a driver is traveling rural roads or busy highways, the threat of hitting a deer while driving is very real, said McGrath. 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 Mississippis highways and roadways during deer season.