It’s that time of year again

Published 8:35 pm Friday, October 11, 2019

There’s a chill in the air; the days are getting shorter. Fall is here, which means so is hunting and mating season for deer. As a result? There are more interactions between deer and vehicles, which will likely end badly for both.

According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, since 2015, animal-related collisions have killed nine people, injured another 2,975 and caused more than $146 million in damages. In 2018 alone, there were nearly 20,000 collisions with animals in the state. Since most of them occur after dark and daylight savings time is approaching, the risk of hitting deer in the road rises exponentially.

NCDOT has the following recommendations to reduce the risk of hitting an animal while on the roads this fall:

  • Slow down in areas posted with deer crossing signs and in heavily wooded areas, especially during the late afternoon and evening.
  • Always be sure to wear your seat belt. Most people injured in deer-vehicle crashes were not wearing their seat belt.
  • Results indicate that most deer-vehicle crashes occur in areas where deer are more likely to travel, such as near bridges or overpasses, railroad tracks, streams and ditches. Therefore, be vigilant when passing through potentially risky landscapes.
  • Drive with high beams on when possible and watch for eyes reflecting in the headlights.
  • Keep in mind that deer often travel in groups, so if you see one deer fly across the road there may be another not far behind!
  • To alert and scare an oncoming deer off the road, slow down and blow your horn with one long blast. Do not rely on devices such as deer whistles or reflectors to deter deer. These devices have not been proven to actually reduce deer-vehicle crashes.
  • Always maintain a safe amount of distance between your vehicle and other cars, especially at night. If the car ahead of you hits a deer, you could also become involved in the crash.
  • Do not swerve to avoid a collision with deer. This could cause you to lose control of your vehicle, and increases the risk of it flipping over, veering it into oncoming traffic or overcorrecting and running off the road and/or causing a more serious crash.
  • Lastly, if your vehicle does strike a deer, do not touch the animal. A frightened and wounded deer can hurt you or further injure itself. The best procedure is to get your car off the road if possible and call 911.