Drivers: be on the lookout for migrating deer

By Kim Saling | Published Saturday, November 8, 2014

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On Monday evening, Nov. 3, I was traveling on U.S. 81/287 when out of the darkness came a huge deer. There was no time to react – one second I am driving at the speed limit, the next I am eye-to-eye with a full-grown buck deer.

In that brief flash, I remember what my dad has always said: “Animals do cross the road in our path. If you encounter this … do not slam on your brakes! Go ahead and plow through it, then pull over.”

That is exactly what happened. The aftereffects of this situation are very traumatic. Panic attacks about driving at night are one side effect. Having flashbacks is another.

If this should happen to you, I strongly advise these words of wisdom. A lot of people will swerve, overcorrect and cause more harm to themselves than necessary.

A second thing is to alert the authorities. My fear, as I was going through a mental checklist on the side of the highway, was where is the deer? Is it in the road? Will it cause other vehicles to swerve? The authorities are trained to handle these situations. Get help immediately.

The third thing I was able to do was to turn off the vehicle. If your vehicle is leaking any fluids and you are able to exit safely, do so. Get to a safe distance. If your vehicle is in the road, if you are able, get out and get to the safety of the median or to the shoulder in the grass – way out of the way of traffic, especially on a busy highway where trucks and large vehicles are traveling at high speeds.

This accident has opened my eyes to the fact that we share this world with all of nature. What can happen will happen. No one is immune to this happening to them.

As I talked with Trooper Patterson I found out that deer accidents were happening more often than normal right now. They are migrating due to hunting season or mating. I was so thankful to find out that the deer ran off and was not a hazard to other drivers.

The whole experience is one I will remember and learn from. It has taught me that even when we are being an alert driver, accidents can still happen.

I honestly believe I was spared to continue being a wife, mother and grandmother. I’m thankful for each new day.

Kim Saling

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