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Traffic Talk: Deer cross the road in cities, too

Don Gammill: Beware of wildlife crossing the road ahead of you, particularly at times when the animal population is increased and more active.
By DON GAMMILL, The Oklahoman Modified: November 11, 2013 at 12:00 pm •  Published: November 11, 2013

Happy Veterans Day, everyone. If in any way you can, tell a veteran “thank you” today. More on that later.

Now, for other matters.

Beware of what crosses the road ahead of you in the dark. And remember: It might not be alone.

Each year about this time, we see reminders from traffic safety experts that it's deer mating season and there is an increased danger when driving on a roadway where these animals are likely to cross.

You would expect that in rural areas, where the vehicle traffic is down and the wildlife traffic is up. But it can happen within city limits as well.

As examples, in the Oklahoma City area, I've seen deer early in the morning or late at night on the Broadway Extension, along Interstate 35 near Moore, on Northwest Expressway just east of the Integris medical complex and along Interstate 240 on the south side.

Each of these areas are high-volume traffic locations and not your typical spots for seeing wildlife of that size. But it happens.

The experts, such as those at AAA Oklahoma, know the dangers. They keep statistics.

The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office numbers for 2011 in Oklahoma, the latest complete statistics available, show 467 crashes reported involving deer, resulting in two fatalities and 184 people injured.

Quoting safety office results, AAA officials said in a recent news release that 60 percent of the deer-involved motor vehicle crashes were at night, 73 percent were in areas not built up; 95 percent involved deer and one vehicle; and 23 percent occurred in November.

“A driver may encounter any number of scenarios at any given moment behind the wheel,” Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma, said. “Remaining alert and limiting distractions is a must. Animals are unpredictable, so the sooner you see them in the roadway, the more time you will have to safely react.”

Remember: you don't normally expect animals on the roadway. When you do encounter them there, their actions can be erratic and unpredictable.

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