Deer mating season is underway, increasing the likelihood of vehicle/deer crashes, AAA warns. In Oklahoma in 2011, there were 467 crashes reported involving deer resulting in two fatalities and 184 people injured, according to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office. In addition, the OHSO reports:

• 60 percent of these deer-involved motor vehicle crashes occurred at night;

• 73 percent took place in an area not built up;

• 95 percent involved deer and one vehicle;

• 23 percent of these crashes occurred in November.

Nationally, collisions with animals resulted in 2,083 fatal crashes and 2,194 fatalities between 2001 and 2011 nationwide. Whether a deer, dog, moose or even squirrel, animals on the roadway are unexpected and their actions can be erratic and unpredictable, creating a dangerous situation for motorists. AAA encourages drivers to use caution and remain alert to avoid becoming involved in a collision with wildlife.

“A driver may encounter any number of scenarios at any given moment behind the wheel,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “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.”

What to Do If an Animal Runs In Front Of Your Vehicle

Scan the road and shoulders ahead of you. Looking ahead helps provide enough reaction time if an animal is spotted. Also, remember some animals move in groups, so when there is one, there are usually more in the area.

Use high beam headlights if there’s no oncoming traffic. Wildlife may be spotted sooner when using high beams. This will give the driver time to slow down, move over or honk the horn to scare the animal away. High beams also help in spotting some animals’ reflective eyes.

If a collision is unavoidable, apply the brakes firmly and remain in your lane. Swerving to avoid an animal can often cause a more serious crash or result in drivers losing control of vehicles.

Be extra cautious at dawn and dusk. Most animals, especially deer, tend to be more active early in the morning and at dusk.

Slow down and use extra caution when traveling through areas with a high and active wildlife population. Be aware of increased wildlife movement in some regions during certain times of year such as hunting or mating season.

Drivers should always wear a seat belt and remain awake, alert and sober.