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How to avoid a collision with a deer

You've heard the saying 'deer in the headlights' - well, its not something you really want to see! According to a recent CDC study, vehicle collisions with deer cause about 200 human deaths and more than one billion dollars in property damage every year in America.

And make no mistake about it, this isn't a problem confined to rural backwoods roads. It can happen anywhere deer live, and a collision can easily kill you. Here's what you need to know to avoid a life-threatening event on the road.

Unfortunately, these tragic incidents are not rare. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there are more than one million deer-vehicle collisions across the country every year.

Trooper Eric Schwartz warns that twilight is just as dangerous as nighttime when it comes to deer accidents. 

"If you see those deer crossing signs, they are more likely to cross in those areas. Not to say that they won't cross in some where it's not, but it's more likely because studies have shown there are more deer in those areas. In the early hours when it's starting to get light or starting to get dark usually is when they're more active during the day," says Trooper Schwartz.

But State Police across the country warn that deer collisions can occur anywhere and in broad daylight. 17-year-old Alixx Mayou was driving to her high school in Marinette, Wisconsin, following the same route she did every morning.

Alixx's father Jeff Mayou says, "I got the phone call from Alixx about quarter to nine in the morning, and all I heard on the phone was a bunch of screaming and crying. Instead of continuing on with a whole phrase, she told me, 'He flew threw the window and he's dead.' I think I know where Alixx is and I think she killed somebody and I didn't know what."

Jeff raced over to the site of his daughter's accident. And what he found shocked him. The 'he' turned out to be a buck that had crashed through the windshield and landed in the passenger seat.

"After the deer accident happened, I didn't want to drive at all. I especially didn't want to drive my truck that I hit the deer in because I was so scared," says Alixx.

Police and auto insurers agree on what you can do to avoid hitting a deer: When you see a crossing sign, slow down. The faster you're going, the less likely you'll be able to brake in time. Honk your horn when you see a deer near the road when driving in deer-populated areas at night, use your high beams as much as possible and, most important, never swerve or leave your lane.

"The best thing to do is not to swerve because that can cause rolling the vehicle over on the side of the road and that will hurt you more than hitting the deer," says Trooper Schwartz.

As dangerous as deer can be to those traveling in cars, they are even more deadly to motorcycle riders. The bottom line, State Troopers say: Trooper Schwartz says no matter what your mode of transportation, always pay close attention to deer crossing signs and stay alert.

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