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CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- It can happen in an instant. At 70 miles per hour a deer can be in your lane, cave in the hood of your car and smash your windshield in a heartbeat. Wildlife biologists say it will happen more often during the next month and theres hardly anything any of us can do to prevent it.
Joe Wilkinson with the Iowa DNR says while successful hunting has done a good job of reducing deer collisions in the state, we are entering the peak of the rut and no one is immune. Drivers get caught in the middle of a passionate chase. This is mating season and deer are crazed, tragically ignoring roads, horns, car lights and everything else that would normally scare them. Youre going to see them 24-7 as bucks look for a receptive female. The does are saying no not now and theyre running out ahead of them so your chances of encountering a deer are much increased this time of year.
Instructors usually mention animals on the road in drivers education, but the toughest thing for many motorists to remember is that often times your best course of action is to hit the deer. Many drivers have died swerving into the ditch or yanking the wheel into oncoming traffic. Highway statistics show that while a collision causes damage, most drivers survive the crash.
At Ream Auto Body in Cedar Rapids Mike Berns says you can almost guess the month by the nature of the damage that comes in the door. He has two cars in the shop right now. The Honda took a hit to the front end. Another motorist topped a hill and ran over a deer already dead in the road. It ripped out the radiator and condenser and bent the frame to the tune of $2,500. Berns says it will be constant in the weeks ahead from minor to major repairs. He says the worst hes ever seen was nearly $12,000 in damage. It took out the front end on it and the car picked the deer up over the roof onto the trunk .. a lot of damage to a vehicle in a relatively short period of time, but obviously the most important thing is nobody getting hurt.
There are now enough deer car collisions on area highways that the IDOT has a crew routinely picking up carcasses and even making special trips when dead deer end up in the middle of the road. Biologists say while motorists wish there was some way to prevent the crashes there isnt much proof anything works. Deer Whistles are touted by some and at one time even the Iowa State Patrol had them mounted on their cars. But the DNR says it hasnt seen any studies suggesting they actually work. Biologists say the best advice is keep an eye out for movement in the ditches and slow down a little, at least for the next few weeks.