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Traffic Talk: Animals on the move can create hazards on the road

Don Gammill: Safety officials warn that November is dangerous time for drivers encountering animals on roadways
By DON GAMMILL Published: November 14, 2011

There's no denying it, I have a real soft spot in my heart for animals.

So much so, in fact, that I have trouble watching any of those commercials that focus on dogs and cats that have been abused. It just rips through me.

I may not befriend all types of animals (I prefer to avoid getting close with skunks, snakes, rats, bears, lions and a few others), but I don't like to see an animal hurt.

OK, OK. Yes, humans, too.

Soft heart, hard bumper. Vehicles and animals don't mix well either.

Safety officials say this is a time of the year when drivers need to pay particular attention because the animals may not be doing the same.

The number of dead animals along highways and country roads can substantiate that.

Officials in the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office say nearly 16 percent of all reported crashes last year — 192 of 1,213 — that involved an animal occurred in November.

Why that month?

Because many animals are moving to new locations as winter approaches, said Alice Collinsworth, safety office communications manager.

And some, deer in particular, are in their breeding season.

You've heard the phrase, “Deer in the headlights?” It's not fun and can be very dangerous when one of these animals jumps out on the roadway, then stands there in your lane as you approach. Making a quick swerve can lead to disastrous results.

In a recent trip along Interstate 35, I counted six dead deer in the median or along the side of the road. There also was some vehicle debris, indicating a collision that most likely accounted for some necessary expensive repairs.

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