COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
According to AAA, more than 49 million travelers in the United States hit the road on Thanksgiving in 2018.
On top of delays and distracted driving, holiday travelers should also be on the lookout for deer.
"This is the time of year where deer are very active. They're trying to find each other for mating purposes, and so they're traveling a lot," said Protection Regional Supervisor Tom Strother with the Missouri Department of Conservation.
"They travel across roadways and that's where we're traveling in our vehicles, and a car-deer collision is not the thing that you want to experience," he said.
Strother said drivers can try to protect themselves from these types of crashes by being aware of their surroundings.
"This time of year, we encourage folks when they're traveling in areas where deer may live, just to slow down. Take extra caution. Look along the side of the roads for any deer that may be standing," Strother said.
"If you see one deer, always assume there is going to be a second or a third deer. Just because one deer crosses the road doesn't mean there's not going to be a second or third," he said.
Strother said crashes can actually be worse if drivers try to avoid hitting deer.
"If a deer runs in front of the vehicle, slow down, but don't try to swerve to miss the deer. If you try to swerve that's when you may drive off the roadway and the accident may be more severe than if you were to go ahead and hit the deer," he said.
Strother said deer are typically more active in the early morning, late evening and at night.
"Most of our vehicle-deer accidents are in the early morning hours anywhere from daylight to a couple hours after the sun comes up, and then the evening time," he said.
Strother said the department keeps track of the number of roadkill deer to gauge the size of the deer population in certain areas. He said if motorists hit a deer and would like to keep it to eat it, they can request a special permit from the Department of Conservation to take it home.