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Ask a Trooper: Don't veer for deer

Question: What is the best action to take when encountering a deer on the highway while traveling. What should I do if I hit a deer with my vehicle? Answer: Deer-vehicle crashes peak in the autumn months, but Minnesota's large deer population mak...

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Be especially cautious from 6 to 9 p.m., when deer are most active. Don't swerve to avoid a deer. Swerving can cause motorists to lose control and travel off the road or into oncoming traffic. BrainerdDispatch.com Illustration

Question: What is the best action to take when encountering a deer on the highway while traveling. What should I do if I hit a deer with my vehicle?

Answer: Deer-vehicle crashes peak in the autumn months, but Minnesota's large deer population make them a safety hazard all year long. Deer crashes are especially dangerous for motorcyclists. Each situation when meeting a deer on the highway is different and common sense should prevail. But in most situations, an important tip for drivers is to never veer for deer - swerving can take motorists into oncoming traffic or off the road.

Motorist Safety Tips to Avoid Deer Crashes

• Drive at safe speeds and always be buckled up.

• Be especially cautious from 6 to 9 p.m., when deer are most active.

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• Use high beams as much as possible at night, especially in deer-active areas.

• Motorists: don't swerve to avoid a deer. Swerving can cause motorists to lose control and travel off the road or into oncoming traffic.

• Motorcyclists: Avoid night and low-light riding periods. A rider's best response when encountering a deer is to use both brakes for maximum braking and to keep your eyes and head up to improve your chances of keeping the bike up. If a crash is imminent, and there is enough space to swerve around the deer without leaving the roadway, use maximum braking and just before impact, attempt a swerve in the opposite direction the deer is traveling. Riders are encouraged to wear full face helmets and full protective gear to prevent injury or death in a crash. High visibility gear can assist other driver's in seeing you better; whether it's while making an evasive maneuver to avoid a deer or laying on the roadway after impacting a deer.

• Don't count on deer whistles or deer fences to deter deer from crossing roads.

• Watch for the reflection of deer eyes and for deer silhouettes on the shoulder of the road. If anything looks slightly suspicious, slow down.

• Slow down in areas known to have a large deer population - such as areas where roads divide agricultural fields from forest land; and whenever in forested areas between dusk and dawn.

• Deer do unpredictable things - they stop in the middle of the road when crossing; cross and quickly re-cross back; and move toward an approaching vehicle. Blow horn to urge deer to leave the road. Stop if the deer stays on the road, don't try to go around it.

• Any Minnesota resident may claim a road-killed animal by contacting a law enforcement officer. An authorization permit will be issued allowing the individual to lawfully possess the deer.

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• If a deer is struck but not killed by a vehicle, keep a distance as deer may recover and move on. If a deer does not move on, or poses a public safety risk, report the incident to a DNR conservation officer or other local law enforcement agency.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Patrol, 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth, MN, 55811; on Twitter @MSPPIO_NE; or by email at neil.dickenson@state.mn.us .

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