Data Brief: HSRC Data Show Deer-Related Crashes Rose by 14 percent in 2019
Advice for Drivers: Buckle Up, Slow Down, and Look Out for Deer
North Carolina motor vehicle crashes involving deer typically peak during the fall months, and that trend continued in 2019, according to crash data compiled by HSRC. Deer-related crashes increased 14 percent to 18,254 in 2019, compared with 15,950 in 2018.
The 2019 data on North Carolina deer-related crashes also show:
- 9,613 happened in October, November, and December, with more than a quarter occurring in November alone.
- 15,533 occurred between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m.
- 11,476 occurred when light conditions were dark with no streetlights.
- Wake County continues to have the highest number of reported deer-related crashes with 981. Other leading counties with high numbers of deer crashes include:
- Guilford (622)
- Pitt (559)
- Randolph (499)
- Union (498)
- Mecklenburg (470)
- Brunswick (448)
- Rockingham (441)
- Duplin (428)
- There was one reported fatal deer crash and 693 crashes involving injuries. The rest were classified as “property damage only” crashes.
The 14 percent increase in deer crashes in 2019 is a larger increase than that for for all crashes in North Carolina. For example, the overall number of reportable crashes statewide in 2019 increased by 1.2 percent, from 281,721 in 2018 to 285,126 in 2019.
Chances of deer-related crashes rise in the fall because it’s prime mating season, and in recent years, other contributing factors may include larger numbers of deer in the state and an increase in people driving.
Following are tips for lowering the risk of a crash with a deer:
- Always wear a seat belt. Proper restraint offers the best protection from injuries in the event of a crash.
- Slow down. Drivers should lower their speeds in areas with large deer populations, such as wooded or farmland areas, and particularly where deer warning signs are posted.
- Watch for eyes reflecting from headlights. Try to look far down the road and scan the roadsides, especially when driving through field edges, heavily wooded areas or posted deer crossing areas. The sooner you see a deer on or approaching a road, the better the chances of avoiding a crash. Using high beam headlights at night when there is no approaching traffic will make it easier to spot deer.
- Remember that deer travel in herds. If one deer crosses the road in front of you, don’t assume that all is clear. Deer herds can be large, and the animals often move one right behind the other.
- Avoid relying on “deer whistles” or other “ultra-sonic” devices that claim to prevent deer collisions.
- Maintain control of your vehicle. It is important to not lose control of your vehicle or veer into the path of an oncoming vehicle to avoid contact with an animal. Loss of control usually results in a more serious crash. It is safer to hit the deer while keeping control than hitting another vehicle.
- Do not try to remove the animal. The North Carolina Highway Patrol advises drivers who are in a crash with a deer, or any large animal, to avoid putting themselves in further danger by attempting to remove the animal carcass. Motorists are advised to pull over to a safe location off the roadway and dial 911 or *HP for help.
Senior Database Analyst: Eric Rodgman, firstname.lastname@example.org