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The Tennessee Highway Patrol has a message for motorists in Tennessee: Watch out for deer!

Deer-related crashes go up during the months of October through December.

"The chances of striking deer are considerably higher during hunting and mating season, especially in November. We want to urge drivers to be aware and cautious in areas where deer are populated, and most importantly, slow down," Colonel Tracy Trott said.

There were 5,911 deer-related crashes in 2012 in the state. That's an increase of 4.2 percent from the 5,670 crashes involving deer the previous year. Of the 2012 figure, 5,601 were property damage, 307 were wrecks with injury, and three resulted in fatalities.

THP also reports that between 2008 and 2012, 9.2 percent of deer-related crashes occurred on interstate highways. Your chances of hitting a deer increase at dawn and dusk, when they are most active.

THP and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) have a few tips to help prevent hitting a deer:

• Whenever you see deer cross the road, expect more to follow. Many times, the second or third deer crossing becomes the one that motorists hit.

• Be attentive; drive defensively, constantly scanning the roadside, especially at daybreak and dusk.

• Do not swerve to avoid contact with deer. This could cause the vehicle to flip or veer into oncoming traffic, causing a more serious crash. Swerving also can confuse the deer as to where to run.

• When you spot a deer, slow down immediately. Proceed slowly until you pass that point.

• If you do collide with a deer, never approach the injured animal. They are powerful and can cause bodily harm to a human. Report any deer collision, even if the damage is minor.

Tennessee law allows deer killed in a collision to be taken and used as food, as long as you contact the nearest TWRA regional office to report the accident within 48 hours.

Deer Involved Crashes Statewide by Month, 2008 - 2012

Crash Month

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

5 Yr. Total

5 Yr. Average

January

417

353

320

428

456

1,974

395

February

270

304

275

346

308

1,503

301

March

288

252

334

285

225

1,384

277

April

248

314

301

304

270

1,437

287

May

310

354

386

369

329

1,748

350

June

369

363

385

376

424

1,917

383

July

292

269

317

272

313

1,463

293

August

293

246

226

278

260

1,303

261

September

278

216

306

288

296

1,384

277

October

599

594

660

591

786

3,230

646

November

1,230

1,348

1,292

1,323

1,481

6,674

1,335

December

610

707

616

810

763

3,506

701

Total

5,204

5,320

5,418

5,670

5,911

27,523

5,505

Source: Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security; Research, Planning, and Development; TITAN; 7 October, 2013.

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