South Dakota ranks second after West Virginia among states with the highest odds of having vehicle and deer collisions according to a State Farm Insurance Study.
Licensed South Dakota Drivers have a 1 in 68 chance of hitting a deer in the next year.
The Insurance Information Institute estimates there are more than 1.6 million collisions with deer every year in the U.S., up 7.7 percent from last year.
AAA of South Dakota is warning drivers that this is the worst time of year for deer collisions. It's mating season and the deer are stocking up on food for the winter.
"We just want motorists to be aware that, to watch out for them and slow down a little bit in those deer crossing areas," said AAA of South Dakota Administrative Director Marilyn Buskohl.
Some business owners in town aren't exactly sad about this news.
"Deer accidents are really important right now because we're beyond the construction season and we haven't got to the winter season yet so we need this next 30 to 45 days of dear hits to kind of carry us through," said Vern Eide General Manager Bruce Vandenbosch.
Marv Veldhuizen, owner of Marv's Body Shop, said the study is nothing new.
"I've been fixing deer hits for close to 50 years now. Not that much has changed, the deer are just as dumb as they always were and we drive just the same as we always did," said President of Marv's Body Shop Marv Veldhuizen.
These body shops depend on deer-accident season from October to November. But this year, South Dakota deer not only have to dodge cars on the road, they're also being hit by a deadly disease.
South Dakota Game Fish and Parks said the deer population in the south east corner of the state has taken a big hit from a disease called EHD.
Body shop owners say they can already feel the effects of the smaller deer population.
"It's down quite a bit. I'd say it's less than a dozen so far, where in the past we've had just about 1 every day for about 30 days," said Vandenbosch.
Lower numbers or not, AAA recommends drivers always be prepared.
"You just never known when a deer is going to cross the road, you just have to know that they're out there," said Buskohl.
AAA South Dakota offers the following tips for drivers:
Buckle up and don't speed. A decrease in speed gives you more time to react.
Be observant. Look for deer-crossing signs indicating areas where deer frequently travel. Deer are creatures of habit and may often use the same path again – remember where you see them.
Reduce distractions in the vehicle and stay alert. A deer standing near a roadside may suddenly run across the road. Slow down and use your horn to scare the deer. Never shine or flash your vehicle's lights. This can cause the deer to fixate on your vehicle. Use high-beams for greater visibility.
Look for groups. Deer travel in groups, so if you see one crossing the road ahead slow down, as there are probably others in the area but out of view.
Never swerve. Instead, slow down and brake. Swerving can cause you to lose control of your vehicle and strike another vehicle or object along the roadway.
Do not rely on devices. There is no conclusive evidence that hood-mounted deer whistles and other such devices work.
Slow down. If a crash with a deer is unavoidable, AAA recommends slowing down and releasing your foot from the brake before impact. This will raise the front end of the car during the crash and increase the likelihood that the animal will go underneath the vehicle instead of through the windshield.
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