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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s general deer hunt just wrapped up for the season, but the danger for the deer is just beginning on Utah’s highways.
November and December are statistically the mostly common time that drivers hit deer on the highways.
Two factors are to blame: First, it is getting darker much earlier, and second, the deer and elk are migrating from the higher elevations for the winter.
“You should always be aware of anything that might be standing on the side of the road that can dart out in front of our car,” said Utah Highway Patrol Corporal Andrew Battenfield.
And this time of year, he said deer on the road in the dark can surprise drivers.
“The last thing you want to do when you encounter a deer is to swerve too sharply. If you swerve sharp enough, there is a high probability that you will roll almost any vehicle,” he said.
Sadly, near Richfield just two weeks ago, a woman who hit a deer died from her injuries, even though she was buckled up.
If you do hit a deer and the damage is minimal, the Utah Highway Patrol says you should still call 911 so troopers can make sure the animal is taken off the road.
“If they are hit hard enough, they can be trapped in the road. You don’t want to leave that hazard for another motorist to come up behind you,” Battenfield added.
Troopers also say don’t approach a wounded animal and, if possible, move away some distance from where you hit the deer to reduce the danger of oncoming traffic.
“Get away from that animal — if your car is able to move, get off on the next exit or at least get away from it. If cars are coming up behind that animal and see it and swerve, you are in the way,” he said.
Not only is there the risk of serious injury in a deer collision, but the average repair cost from a deer hit is now more than $4,000.