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Published: Thursday, 10/19/2006

Accidents involving deer peak in October, November

BY KARAMAGI RUJUMBA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Lauren Stengle grew up seeing deer near her home on the outskirts of Bowling Green.

But until a dark Monday night last month on State Rt. 64, she had never seen a 12-point buck. And when she did, it was too close for comfort.

"It was the biggest deer I have ever seen, and it was flailing in the middle of the road," Ms. Stengle recalled. "Somebody in front of us had already hit it, but it was still alive and in the middle of the road."

Ms. Stengle, 23, who was driving home with her mother from the Bowling Green State University's recreation center, said it was too late by the time she saw the animal and she had no choice but to hit it with her 1999 Toyota Corolla.

By her own account, Ms. Stengle was lucky to survive the accident.

"It was terrifying because if that deer was not already hurt when we hit it, we would have been killed."

Nine fatalities and 941 injuries were reported to be the result of vehicle-deer crashes on Ohio roads last year, according to state records.

Ohio Highway Patrol officials caution motorists to be on the lookout for deer around this time of the year, especially at dawn and after sunset.

State patrol officials said vehicle-deer crashes in Ohio decreased by 9 percent in 2005.

But even though the state saw a decrease in the number of deer-related crashes, Ohio Department of Public Safety data show there were 27,366 vehicle-deer crashes on Ohio roads last year.

In Michigan, 58,741 vehicle-deer crashes were reported last year, according to the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition.

Michigan also saw nine fatalities as a result of motor vehicle-deer crashes, and the state recorded 1,700 injuries.

Motorists are likely to see more herds of deer on roads at this time of year because deer become active and enter the peak of their breeding period during October and November, according to state patrol officials.

State patrol records show most crashes last year occurred between 5 p.m. and 1 a.m., and between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m.

State patrol officials recommend the following measures for motorists dealing with a potential deer crash:

•If you see a deer on the road, expect more deer to be nearby. Deer commonly travel in herds, and so the probability is that other deer will be in front or behind the one you have seen. Slow down and be alert.

•Don't swerve your vehicle to avoid striking a deer. If a collision with a deer seems unavoidable, then hit it while maintaining full control of your vehicle.

•Stay alert. Deer are always unpredictable. They often dart into traffic on busy highways in metropolitan areas.

•Report any vehicle-deer collisions to a local law enforcement agency within 24 hours.

Contact Karamagi Rujumba at:

krujumba@theblade.com

or 419-724-6064.



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