Oh, deer: Pinellas drivers beware - FOX 13 News

Oh, deer: Pinellas drivers beware

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PALM HARBOR (FOX 13) -

So far this month, more than a dozen deer have died on East Lake Road in northern Pinellas County after getting hit by cars. A five-mile stretch between Tampa Road and Keystone Road is especially treacherous despite efforts to warn drivers.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office listened to public complaints and brought in a large blinking message board which cautions motorists to look out for deer crossing. They also put up bright orange flags on the permanent stationary signs.

There's no question the deer are plentiful in the area.

"We have two fragmented areas: John Chestnut Park and Brooker Creek Preserve, and what's happening is the deer are trying to cross during mating season," explained Ronda Musca with the Clearwater Audubon Society.

Mating season starts in November and runs through January.

"A lot of deer are active especially at dawn and dusk. Motorists need to pay attention and keep the speeds as low as they can," stated Sgt. Steve Gaskins with the Florida Highway Patrol.

But crash reports FOX 13 reviewed show sometimes accidents are simply unavoidable.

"It's typically with short notice, or no notice at all," warned Gaskins. "If you do see a deer, don't over-correct and have a knee-jerk correction where you steer so hard left or right that you lose control of the vehicle."

The Clearwater Audubon Society is hoping additional measures will make the road safer for everyone. The group met with a representative from Florida's Department of Transportation and brought up the idea of temporarily lowering the speed limit on East Lake Road during mating season, similar to what we often see in construction zones, but there was no decision on the suggestion.

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