Mississippi's 1.7 Million Deer on the Move

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This is the time of year when drivers must be especially alert because of the possibility of deer jumping out onto the road.

It's an especially big problem here in Mississippi, which has one of the highest concentrations of deer in the country.

Vehicle collisions with deer cost drivers millions of dollars every year, so insurance companies are warning people to be careful.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation says about 20 percent of crashes occur in the morning, and more than half occur between 5 p.m. and midnight.

"Definitely this time of year is the time of year where deer are a little bit more active in our area," said insurance agent, Michael Bland. "Drivers definitely need to be more cautious when driving."

Insurance agents are telling the motorists that it's better to hit the deer than to avoid it.

"Don't try to avoid the deer and cause more damage to yourself or to your vehicle," said Bland. "Most of the studies have shown that it's safer usually to just hit the deer, instead of trying to avoid it, and cause some more major damage to yourself."

Officials say it's usually a collision claim, which carries a higher deductible than a comprehensive, and can be charged against the person's policy.

"I actually recommend going to your insurance adviser, professionally reviewing your policy, making sure that you have the coverages that are adequate for physical damage to your vehicle, medical, that type of thing," Bland said.

"Here we get about ten a week," said insurance agent Utheshiea Johnson. "Usually they couldn't avoid it on the highway. A lot of them happen early in the morning."

Officials are asking motorist to watch more carefully in the early morning hours as well as the late evening. Deer are very active at those hours.

Mississippi has one of the highest deer populations in the nation, 1.7 million.