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Oh, deer! Pay extra attention on the road; crashes increase in fall, winter

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Three people were killed in Tennessee in crashes involving deer in 2012, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol cautions motorists to be particularly watchful for deer in the fall and winter.

“The chances of striking deer are considerably higher during hunting and mating season, especially in November,” said THP Col. Tracy Trott.

“We want to urge drivers to be aware and cautious in areas where deer are populated, and most importantly, slow down,” he added.

The likelihood of deer-related crashes increases in October through December, Troutt said.

In Tennessee, there were 5,911 deer-related crashes in 2012.

That’s an increase of 4.2 percent from the 5,670 crashes involving deer the previous year.

Of the 2012 figure, 5,601 were property damage, 307 were wrecks with injury, and three resulted in fatalities.

THP also reports that between 2008-12, 9.2 percent of deer-related crashes occurred on interstate highways.

Additionally, since 2008, deer-related crashes in Tennessee have steadily increased by 13.6 percent.

In the event of a deer-related crash, move the vehicle as far off the road as possible.

Motorists are also encouraged to dial *THP (*847) from an available cellphone for assis-
tance.

The call will be connected to the nearest THP Communications Center, and the next available state trooper will be dispatched to the location.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency suggest the following tips to help prevent deer-related crashes during peak mating and hunting seasons:

•  Remember that mating season puts deer on the move and deer tend to move at dawn and dusk.

• Motorists are reminded that when they see a deer cross the road, expect more to follow. Many times, the second or third deer crossing becomes the one that motorists hit.

• Be attentive; drive defensively, constantly scanning the roadside, especially at daybreak and dusk.

• Do not swerve to avoid contact with deer. This could cause the vehicle to flip or veer into oncoming traffic, causing a more serious crash. Swerving also can confuse the deer as to where to run.

• When spotting a deer, slow down immediately. Proceed slowly until you pass that point.

• Those who do collide with a deer are advised to never approach the injured animal. They are powerful and can cause bodily harm to a hu-
man.

• Report any deer collision, even if the damage is minor.

• Tennessee law allows deer killed in a collision to be taken and used as food, as long as the nearest TWRA regional office is contacted to report the accident within 48 hours.

Roane County is covered by Region 3, based in Crossville, which may be contacted at 931- 484-9571.

TWRA offices may also be contacted in the state toll free at 1-800-262-6704.

For a listing of TWRA regional offices, visit the TWRA website at www.tnwildlife.org