By: Melina Matthes
OMAHA (kptm) - It's deer season and that means it's a dangerous time to be driving in Nebraska. So how can you protect your car and family from a crash? Fox 42 New spoke with a local body shop that's seen several cars brought in already this season and the manager has a few recommendations.
Nebraska Game and Parks said there are fewer deer this season then previous years, however they said there are still tens of thousands across the state. The sheriff's office wants to warn drivers to be on the lookout.
It's the middle of hunting season and deer are looking for mates, which means trouble for drivers.
"Deer are in rut and you will find a buck chasing a doe and he don't care where he's going. They don't pay any attention to the road."
Sheriff's deputy Gerald Madsen said November is the peak for car-deer collisions. "Anytime you have hunting going on or you have farming going on, anything that disrupts the habitat where the deer are nesting, then you're going to have an increased activity there."
He warns drivers to be extra cautious and says if a deer runs out in front of you, don't freak out.
"Don't veer for deer. Brake in a straight line, slow down as much as possible, you're probably going to make the impact but you'll stay safe inside your vehicle," Madsen said.
"Hit the deer. Hit the deer, don't go into oncoming traffic or hit a stationary object, like a telephone pole or a tree along the side of the road. Hit the deer, you're always best to hit the deer," Body shop manager, Mark Dunwoody said.
In the last few weeks, several cars have already been brought in to Charlie Graham Body and Service for deer collisions. A Toyota mini van that was brought in was hit in the front bumper. The body shop manager said it's about $3000 worth of damage. He says it's one of the least expensive collisions he's dealt with.
"It depends on how big the animal is and whether you're out on the highway or even in residential areas. We've seen them actually in town. Deer make it all the way in to town," Dunwoody said.
He said one deer that made it into the city caused over $9,000 in damage to an SUV, but he said it's not just deer running out in front cars. If you drive over a dead deer it can cause extensive damage.
"It tears up all the plastic, engine under covers and different shields and things underneath the car so you don't have to hit a live one to have damage you can also hit a dead one that's lying in the road."
And if you slow down enough, you may just avoid the accident.
The sheriff's office wants to remind drivers that deer crossing signs are just a warning that deer could possibly be in the area. They say you should always be on the lookout and always be ready especially at dawn and dusk.
State Farm insurance estimates more than a million crashes happen every year between deer and vehicles across the U.S.