During deer hunting season in Missouri and Kansas, drivers should be aware of the increased risk of car crashes caused by fleeing animals and careless drivers. Whether you're a hunter heading out at the crack of dawn or a commuter coming home from work through a rural area, you should be extra alert during deer firearm season.
Collisions With Deer Increase in the Fall
Across the country, car crashes with deer spike in November. This occurs for several reasons, but mostly because it's deer mating season, when bucks are roaming farther afield in search of a mate.
It also coincides with hunting season, when groups of hunters in the woods can flush out herds from their hiding places and onto major roadways. Another reason for the increase in deer/vehicle collisions is fall crop harvest. As farmers clear their fields, deer lose their habitat and wander into more urban areas.
Tips from the Insurance Information Institute (III) for avoiding a collision with a deer include the following:
- The highest risk times are from sunset to midnight and shortly before and after sunrise, so be especially cautious during these times.
- Pay attention in deer-crossing zones. These signs aren't random; they're placed deliberately in areas known to have large deer populations and in areas where roads divide farms from forest.
- If you see one deer, others may be nearby, so slow down and scan the roadside and woods before proceeding. Blow your horn with one long blast to frighten the deer away.
- When you see a deer in or near your path, brake firmly, but stay in your lane. Many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or lose control of their cars.
- Always wear your seat belt. Most people injured in car/deer crashes weren't wearing seat belts.
While every driver is at risk of hitting at dear, especially in the fall, hunters face additional dangers behind the wheel.
Causes of Hunter Car Crashes
Deer hunting season—particularly firearm season—is a big deal in Missouri and Kansas. While the regulations and seasons vary, the goal is the same—bag the one deer you're allowed during the season, the bigger the better. Many hunters take the season's opening day off of work and plan excursions with friend and family members. In their excitement, hunters often take needless risks behind the wheel, increasing their chances of causing a car accident.
Some of these risks include the following:
- Fatigued driving. Hunters want to be in their positions before deer begin to stir in the morning, so they typically leave home long before daybreak and may not be fully awake behind the wheel. Likewise, after a full day of hunting, it can be difficult to stay awake for the drive home. Not only do hunters endanger their own lives and those of their passengers, but they're also are a threat to others on the road.
- Distracted driving. Trying to find an unfamiliar location, checking on the deer mounted on the back of the vehicle, or simply celebrating with passengers after a successful hunt are distractions behind the wheel that could lead to a crash.
- Impaired driving. For many outdoor enthusiasts, drinking and hunting go hand-in-hand. This can lead to high numbers of intoxicated drivers on the road at the end of the day.
- Poorly-loaded cargo. Unless a hunter has a pick-up with plenty of cargo space, he may overload his car with gear and—on the trip home—a deer carcass mounted to the trunk. This is a distraction to other drivers, and if it's not properly secured, it could easily become a road hazard.
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