October is a bad month for collisions with deer. The only thing worse is November.
With deer-vehicle collisions bad and about to get worse, authorities are warning motorists to be on the alert as they travel area roads, especially in the morning and evening.
And Wake County motorists are advised to be particularly careful; Wake leads the state in deer-vehicle collisions by a mile. Wake’s 991 animal-vehicle collisions last year – the vast majority of the crashes with deer – was far ahead of Guilford County’s 619, which ranked second, according to data from the N.C. Department of Transportation. In fact, Wake has led the state in animal-related crashes 10 years in a row, the data shows.
“Deer activity is on the increase as a result of the mating and hunting seasons,” a recent DOT advisory explains. “Crashes are most common between 5 and 8 a.m., and from 6 p.m. to midnight. That is when more vehicles are on the road, deer movement increases, and limited visibility makes it more difficult for motorists to see them on or near roadways.”
Nearly half (49.6 percent) of all animal-related crashes occur in October, November and December and November is the worst month of all, with 22.9 percent occurring in that month.
The crashes are rarely fatal – there has been only one fatality in vehicle-animal crashes in between 2010 and 2012, according to a recent press release from the City of Raleigh. But the crashes in those years resulted in 206 injuries to humans, and nearly $7.5 million in damaged property.
To break it down to an individual level, the average property damage cost from a deer collision is $3,414, according to data from State Farm insurance.
Here are some tips to minimize the possibility of hitting a deer (compiled from city, state and insurance press releases):
- Keep in mind that deer generally travel in herds – if you see one, there is a strong possibility others are nearby.
- Be aware of posted deer crossing signs. These are placed in active deer crossing areas.
- Remember that deer are most active between 6 and 9 p.m.
- Do not swerve to avoid contact with deer. This could cause you to lose control of the vehicle, flipping it over, veering it into oncoming traffic or overcorrecting and running off the road, causing a more serious crash. The best tactic is to slow down, if possible, and blow your horn with one long blast to frighten the deer away.
- Do not rely on devices such as deer whistles, deer fences or reflectors to deter deer as these devices have not been proven to reduce deer-vehicle crashes.
- Slow down in posted deer crossing areas and heavily wooded areas;
- Be especially careful when approaching or travelling near bridges or overpasses, railroad tracks, streams and ditches; statistics show that most deer-vehicle crashes occur near those features;
- Drive with high beams on when possible, and watch out for eyes reflecting in the headlights;
- Increase the distance between your vehicle and other cars, especially at night. If the car ahead of you hits a deer, you may also become involved in the accident;
- Always wear your seat belt. Most people injured in deer-vehicle crashes were not wearing their seat belt;
If your vehicle does strike a deer, authorities say, do not touch the animal because a frightened and wounded deer can cause you harm. The best thing to do is to remove your car off the road and call 911.