“They don’t follow crosswalks,” Officials warn of heightened deer collisions in Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA - For about the next six weeks, deer are going to be especially thick in Oklahoma.

And, if you see one, there are likely to be several others following along behind it.

"They don't follow crosswalks,” said EMSA Paramedic Colin Roy. “They don't follow the deer crossing signs."

They follow nature.

Sometimes, that leads them right into our paths and roadways, and it's not only dangerous for deer.

"It's not uncommon to hear of a fatality,” Roy said.

Within the last couple of years, there have been multiple deaths as a result of accidents involving deer.

According to the Department of Motor Vehicle, about 200 people die each year from wildlife collisions, and officials at the Oklahoma Insurance Department said your rates can also go up, too.

"Over the years, we've responded to quite a few calls involving deer,” Roy said. “Whether it be a car accident that was averted or a car accident that occurred while averting deer or collisions with deer themselves."

The Department of Wildlife Conservation said it is prime time for accidents.

It's also illegal to take the animal if you hit and kill it unless you call a game warden beforehand and get permission.

"This is because they're going through the season called the rut. This is the deer's mating season,” said Oklahoma Department of Wildlife and Conservation spokesperson Don P. Brown. "Probably, for the next month to six weeks, this will be ongoing."

Wildlife officials also said the best thing to do if a deer darts out in front of you is to slow down and brace to hit the animal.

Believe it or not, your chances of surviving are greater if you hit the deer instead of swerving to miss it.

"I’ve seen where the animal came up over the hood into the windshield and the motorists or the occupants were unable to get away from the animal coming through, and then I've also seen injuries and fatalities where cars have rolled or made impact with trees or poles when they go to divert from the animal,” Roy said.

Below are tips from the Oklahoma Insurance Department to avoid an accident involving animals as well as what to do if you are involved in an accident:

How to Avoid an Animal Collision

Wildlife can be unpredictable.

A driver may encounter a number of scenarios at any given moment when crossing paths with an animal.

Knowing how to react can make all the difference.

  • Deer tend to travel in herds so, if you see one, look out for more.
  • Watch for deer signs. They are placed at known deer-crossing areas. Reduce your speed when you see a sign.
  • Be extra cautious at dawn and dusk. Many animals, especially deer, are more active in the early morning and at dusk.
  • Use high beam headlights if there’s no oncoming traffic. Wildlife may be spotted sooner with high beams, and they also help spotting some animals’ reflective eyes.

What to Do After an Animal Accident

Some accidents are unavoidable.

If you are about to hit a deer, hold firmly onto the steering wheel, apply your brakes and come to a stop.

If you can't avoid a collision, try not to swerve.

If you swerve, you could lose control and hit a tree or veer into oncoming traffic.

After a crash with wildlife, follow the steps below:

  • If you can, move your car to a safe place and turn on your hazard lights.
  • Stay away from the animal. A frightened or wounded animal can lash out and hurt you.
  • If you can't move your car or the animal carcass is blocking traffic, alert the authorities so they can clear the roadway.
  • Document the incident by taking photos of your vehicle damage, the roadway and any injuries sustained.
  • Check to see if your vehicle is safe to operate. Check for leaking fluid, damaged lights, loose parts or other safety hazards. When in doubt, call a tow truck.

Finally, always wear your seat belt.

This won’t prevent a collision, but it can save your life.