EUGENE, Ore. - When it comes to car colliding with wildlife, November is the worst month of the year - and Lane and Douglas counties are two of the worst places in Oregon.
Last year, the Oregon DOT received reports of 1,283 such crashes, up from 1,199 reported in 2011.
Since 2008, Oregon counties with the highest number of reported wildlife-involved crashes are Lane, Clackamas, Deschutes, Douglas, and Jackson.
Since 2003 there have been more than 9,400 reported wildlife-involved collisions in Oregon. One-third of those crashes took place in September, October or November.
Transportation officials believe the numbers are actually higher because most collisions involving wildlife result in property damage only to the involved vehicle and do not get reported to police or DMV.
For example, ODOT's emergency response dispatch center log for a three-month period shows more than 1,000 reported crashes involved wildlife - and that was just in southern Oregon.
To reduce the risk to life and property, ODOT and state police recommend the following precautions:
- The annual deer rut season typically lasts from late October to mid-to-late November, increasing deer activity and increasing the potential for deer to cross roads.
- During the next few months there will be fewer daylight hours and visibility will be challenged by darkness and winter weather conditions.
- Be attentive at all times, especially sunset to sunrise for any potential hazard on or near the highway.
- When driving in areas that have special signs indicating the possible presence of animals/wildlife, please use extra caution because these signs are posted for a reason.
- Be extra careful in areas where there is a lot of vegetation next to the road or while going around curves. Wildlife near the road may not be visible.
- Remember that the presence of any type of animal/wildlife could also mean that others are nearby.
- When you see an animal/wildlife near or on the roadway, reduce your speed and try to stay in your lane. Many serious crashes are the result of drivers swerving to avoid wildlife or other obstacles and they crash into another vehicle or lose control of their own vehicle.
- The same advice applies for smaller wildlife like nutria or raccoons - try to stay in your lane and do not swerve for these animals. They are less dangerous to vehicles than big game animals; losing control of the vehicle is a larger concern.
- Always wear your safety belt, even the slightest collision could result in serious injuries.