Deer Alert!

Published 8:30 am Monday, November 1, 2010

They’re back!!!

With hunting season now in full swing, the number of deer-related vehicle accidents increases. Such crashes are reported daily by motorists throughout the Roanoke-Chowan area.

While a crash involving a deer can happen at any time, the majority of deer-vehicle collisions occur between the months of October and December, when deer activity increases due to mating and hunting seasons. Crashes are most common during the hours of 5 p.m. to 7 a.m., when deer movement increases and limited lighting makes it more difficult for motorists to see them on or near roadways.

“People need to also understand that often a worse crash occurs when a driver swerves to avoid the deer in the roadway,” said NCDOT Director of Mobility and Safety Kevin Lacy. “This reaction can cause the driver to hit another car head-on or run off the road. It is better to hit the deer than to lose control of your vehicle and hit a tree or someone else head on.”

To help reduce the number of wildlife-related automobile crashes, the N.C. Department of Transportation reminds motorists to be aware of the increased presence of deer on state roads during fall months.

More than 19,300 animal-related crashes were reported each of the last three years, and 90 percent of those involved deer. Since 2007, the incidents have resulted in 3,353 injuries to people, of which 17 were fatal, and nearly $127 million in property damage.

Locally, Bertie County led the Roanoke-Chowan region in the number of deer-related auto crashes (165) during 2009. In descending order were Hertford County (116), Northampton County (110) and Gates County (87).

Between 2007 and 2009, there were 58,462 animal-related collisions reported throughout North Carolina. The top five counties for such collisions in 2009 were Wake (1,115), Guilford (594), Pitt and Rockingham (543), and Duplin (542). Wake County has had the most animal-related crashes for the past nine years.

NCDOT offers the following suggestions for motorists to avoid being in collision with a deer:

Slow down in posted deer crossing areas and heavily wooded areas, especially during the late afternoon and evening.

Statistics indicate most car-deer crashes occur near bridges or overpasses. Deer also follow railroad tracks, streams and ditches.

Drive with high beams on, when possible, and watch out for eyes reflecting in the headlights.

Remember that deer often travel in groups, so do not assume that the road is clear if one deer has already passed.

Do not swerve to avoid contact with deer. This could cause the vehicle to flip or veer into oncoming traffic, causing a more serious crash. Swerving also can confuse the deer as to where to run.

If you see a deer near or on the road, give your car horn one long blast. This sound gives the deer an audible signal to avoid.

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.