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Highway patrol advises how to avoid animal versus car collisions

By Faith Smith, KECI Reporter, fcronin@keci.com
Published On: Nov 03 2013 08:48:12 PM MST
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Studies show drivers have the greatest chance of hitting a deer in November and Montana ranks second on the list of states where a deer collision is most likely to happen.

We wanted to give drivers some tips on how to avoid animal wrecks so Sunday afternoon we met with highway patrol troopers to learn more.  

It's a situation Montana drivers know all too well but trooper Michael Burman says with a deer in the headlights, there are precautions you can take to keep you and your family safe.

“If the deer comes out in the road in front of you and you are traveling highway speeds the most important thing to me is to safely get the speed off as quick as you can,” Burman says.  

Burman advises not to try and swerve out of the way unless you're positive you can do it safely.

“What we see a lot of times is that big first emergency reaction is too big,” he says.  “Then the car's gone out of control and that's where you'll hear us say hit the deer before you take a large emergency reaction that's going to put your car out of control.”

With 21 years on the job Burman says a driver is much more likely to survive an animal versus vehicle collision than a rollover from over-reacting.

“Moose are a particularly dangerous animal but on the other hand a rollover is always a bad situation,” he says.  

Troopers tell NBC Montana deer and many other animals come out in the early hours of the morning and at dusk around 6 to 9 at night, so if you're driving at one of these times make sure and keep an eye out for signs that indicate popular spots on the interstate or highway for animals to cross.

If there isn't enough time to avoid the animal, Burman says to try and lessen your impact.

“Try and make the impact as off-angled and not direct as you can,” he says.  “From there the most important thing is keep control as best you can.”

Deer generally travel in herds so if you see one there's a strong chance there are more.

“If you're seeing the deer on the hills and stuff a lot and there's the river down there that's a good idea that that's going to be a danger area,” says Burman.

Above all he says focus on driving, keep your eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel.