Officials warning Oklahoma drivers to be alert for deer on the roadway

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Collision Works, an auto body shop in northwest Oklahoma City, gets a lot of work when it comes to car repairs, with everything from sanding to painting a brand new bumper.

However, the shop receives most of its money from deer collisions.

“When we started this initially in 2014, we saw $150,000 in deer hit-related repairs between the months of October and December,” said Meleah Montgomery, Regional Marketing Director.

In 2015 and 2016, the numbers continued to climb.

“Last year, we did over half a million dollars just in deer-related accident repairs,” Montgomery said.

October is the time when deer sightings spike.

“The months to come are the key months where deer are out looking for their mates,” said Leslie Gamble, AAA spokesperson.

AAA has a warning for drivers.

“It's much more common for deer to be crossing the roads, that can really cause some terrible accidents for people,” Gamble said.

Gamble told News 4 more than 420 drivers in 2016 had an accident involving deer. 13 of those were so severe, people had to go the hospital.

“AAA really wants to advise people to be on the lookout during these coming weeks for deer,” she said.

Insurance companies and collision repair shops urge drivers to look for the obvious signs when on the road, like paying attention to road signs, keep your eyes moving back and forth and stay alert during hours when deer sightings are high.

“We're pushing these deer out of their natural habitat, they have nowhere else to go but into the city and onto our streets,” said Montgomery.

AAA has some tips to help prevent an accident or to reduce damage from an animal collision:

  1. Pay attention to road signs. Yellow, diamond-shaped signs with an image of a deer indicate areas with high levels of deer activity.
  2. Keep your eyes moving back and forth. Continuously sweep your eyes across the road in front of you for signs of animals and movement. Animals may also be alongside the road, so make sure to look to the right and left, as well. While the most likely accident is you hitting an animal, on occasion they might also hit you by running into the side of your car.
  3. Be especially attentive in early morning and evening hours. Many animals, especially deer, are most active from 5 to 8 a.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. – prime commuting times for many people.
  4. Use high beams when there’s no oncoming traffic. You can spot animals sooner. Sometimes the light reflecting off their eyes will reveal their location.
  5. Slow down, and watch for other deer to appear. Deer rarely travel alone, so if you see one, there are likely to be more nearby.
  6. Slow down around curves. It’s harder to spot animals down the road when going around curves.
  7. One long blast. A long blast on your horn may frighten animals away from your vehicle.
  8. Use brakes if an impact is imminent. Don’t swerve. Instead, stay in your lane. Swerving away from animals can confuse them so they don’t know which way to run. It can also put you in the path of oncoming vehicles or cause you to crash into something like a lamppost or a tree.
  9. Always wear a seatbelt. The chances of getting injured when hitting an animal are much higher if you don’t have your seatbelt on. Also never drive drunk, distracted or drowsy.
  10. Consider purchasing comprehensive insurance, if you don’t already have it. Comprehensive insurance is the type of insurance that covers animal strikes.