During the fall harvest and through the hunting seasons, deer are more active and create hazards for Missouri motorists. Colonel Eric T. Olson, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol says this is also mating season and deer behavior changes during this time of year. Olson says that may cause an increase in sightings and roadway crossings. Hunting and crop harvesting may result in these animals being in places they aren’t usually seen. If you are on the road, remain alert.
The Missouri Highway Patrol reports in 2019, drivers in Missouri were involved in 4,320 traffic crashes where deer-vehicle strikes occurred. That is one deer strike every two hours in the state. In these crashes, there were nine fatalities and 449 people were injured. The statistics show the majority of deer strike crashes happen in October and November, with the largest number in November. While deer strikes can occur at any time of the day, most are from 6:00 to 7:00 am and 6:00-7:00 pm.
The Highway Patrol reminds us that rural areas are not the only place where deer/vehicle accidents occur. Drivers in urban areas of the state should watch for deer as well. When you see a deer, slow down and proceed with caution. Deer often travel in groups–stay on guard after a close call or when you see a single 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. At night, watch for deer eyes to reflect your headlights, which could give you more time to react to their presence.
Drivers are reminded that an attempt to avoid striking a deer could result in a more serious crash involving oncoming traffic. Try to remain calm. Overreacting usually leads to more serious traffic crashes. As soon as you see a deer, the best course of action is to reduce your speed.