Several years ago very early in the morning while driving in rural Oklahoma something fuzzy ran in front of the car. Two thuds later the animal had taken out the radiator and caused major front-end damage. Luckily we made it to a truck repair place. We were able to leave the car to get the radiator and engine stuff. Found a guy to give us a 3-hour ride to Amarillo to pick up a rental for the rest of our trip. Ever since then I've hated this time of year because we're in that part of the year where it's easy to encounter wildlife jumping out from the side of the road.

In West Central Missouri that's mainly deer. Last year there were 3,639 crashes involving deer in Missouri. 348 injuries. And five deaths according to the Missouri Department of Transportation.

So how can you avoid hitting a deer? The information from MoDOT isn't confidence-inspiring. They suggest scanning both sides of the roadway for animals like deer, driving cautiously, and not driving distracted.

Natalie Roark, state maintenance director says, "Distracted driving—particularly when wildlife is on the move—can be deadly. Always buckle up and put your phone down when driving.”

MoDOT cites the Missouri Highway Patrol in giving drivers a little more intel in avoiding deer. They say, "Most deer strikes occurred at dawn and dusk in October and November." Why? Fall is breeding season for deer so they're more active. And with earlier sunsets and later sunrises, more people are out driving at dusk and dawn which can make it hard to see deer off to the side of the road.

One other piece of advice MoDOT has for motorists is to never swerve to avoid hitting a deer. That can cause the driver to lose control of their vehicle resulting in serious injury or death.

If you do hit a deer and it has died, Missouri State Law, says the motorist who hit the deer may claim the deer for themselves if they get permission from a Missouri Department of Conservation agent. Motorists can obtain permission by contacting the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Additionally, motorists should stay out of harm's way and contact MoDOT at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (275-6636) to report any hit deer that was hit and laying in the roadway impeding the flow of traffic.

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