ARDMORE, OK -- According to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office last November more than 15 percent of all reported crashes in the state were caused by animals. Wildlife officials say animals approach roads more frequently this time of year, but as Kristen Shanahan shows us there are some ways to help you avoid hitting them.
Ardmore Police Sergeant Claude Henry says coming in contact with wildlife is sometimes unavoidable even for the most experienced drivers. Just days ago he says he hit a deer while patrolling over night.
"It was a surprise to me because it was so dark and it had been quiet on the shift. Then all of a sudden boom it just happened," Henry said.
Henry says he was driving below the speed limit and slowed down when he saw the doe, but still could not avoid hitting it. He says he knows the destruction hitting an animal can cause. That is why he was thankful he, his car and the deer were okay.
Wildlife Expert and Owner of JJ Taxidermy Josh Pittman says there is a reason deer are more out and about during this time of year, and that is because of the rut, the deer's mating season that lasts from the end of October through the beginning of January. Pittman says right now is the peak of it.
"The bucks are typically more focused on finding a mate then they are their surroundings, and this decreased awareness will sometimes put them at risk," Pittman said.
Pittman says it is not only the deer you have to worry about, that the change of the seasons and this year's drought has limited or changed some wildlife's food sources causing creatures like cattle and rodents to near green road sides in search for food.
Offcials say there are some defensive driving tips you should remember to help avoid an animal involved accident. Some of those tips are to slow down and watch ahead. Continually scan from left to right ahead of you, and to create awareness with the wildlife by honking your horn; however, officials say if you cannot avoid hitting the animal the most important thing to remember is not to swerve. Swerving can cause even more damage, and could even cost you your life.