car deer accidents

A car passes a deer crossing warning sign in November 2010 along Iowa Highway 12 north of Sioux City. 

SIOUX CITY -- It is time to be on watch when driving, especially near or after sunset.

The Sioux County (Iowa) Sheriff's Office reported three wrecks on September 26 and 27, and traffic reports show all three involved vehicles that struck deer.

In each of those cases, a deer entered the roadway, and the damage to the cars ran from $2,000 to $4,000. No injuries to the drivers took place, but striking a deer can be a traumatic event, and at times vehicles may leave the highway.

The Sac County Sheriff's Office is advising people to be wary when driving, primarily at dusk and night, as it is "that time of year" for crashes with deer.

"We have seen farmers in their fields cutting silage and picking beans. With this time of the season comes several hazards. As the farmers begin their work in the fields, it forces deer on to our roadways. It also increases the amount of combines and other large farm machinery on our roadways. Please slow down," the sheriff's office said in a post.

Deer aren't just in rural areas. As Sioux City residents recognize, they move in northside and westside areas. In some statistics from the Sioux City Police Department,  there were 59 reported collisions with deer in 2010, and 61 in 2013.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says deer like to live in wooded areas, and will also congregate in grassy areas, where farmers have taken some land out of production for government programs

DNR says deer move in large numbers typically twice per year, in spring when giving birth to fawns and in fall. The autumn times involve breeding season, beginning in mid-October and heaviest for the first three weeks in November.

Counties, cities and the Iowa Department of Transportation all have the authority to place deer warning signs on highways within their jurisdiction.

If the area has had deer-car collisions at a rate of at least three times the statewide three-year average, a sign will be placed. Most deer warning zones in Iowa are just a mile or two, but some extend up to 10 miles.

In a new report Monday, State Farm Insurance showed Iowa had the fifth-highest rate of deer collisions nationally in 2017. Data compiled by the company shows one out of 73 drivers experienced a collision with a deer.

The number of deer-vehicle collisions was 30,684, or down about 1,400 crashes from 2016. November was the month with the highest number in Iowa. Pennsylvania had the most for the year, with 141,777.

State Farm noted that people should use high beam lights at night to see deer sooner, and be wary in areas near woods and water. If a deer is seen, slow down by braking and sound the car horn, but don't swerve out of the lane.

"Deer are a road hazard. Slow down like you would for other hazards, like bad weather. Drive at a speed that will allow you to stop in time if you see a deer ahead," the State Farm release said.

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