Fall Months are Most Dangerous for Deer-related Crashes in NC
Advice for Drivers: Slow Down, Buckle Up and Look Out for Deer

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (Oct. 19, 2015) — Motor vehicle crashes involving deer historically peak during the fall months in North Carolina, and the state’s most recent crash data shows no exception to that rule. In 2014, more than half of all deer-related crashes in North Carolina occurred in the months of October, November, December and January.

“Deer on or near the roadways is a major concern for motorists in North Carolina at this time of year,” said David Harkey, director of the UNC Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC). “A crash can happen at any time, but drivers should be particularly careful in the early morning and early evening hours. More than 80 percent of deer-related crashes in 2014 occurred between 6 at night and 8 in the morning.”

Further analysis of deer-motor vehicle crash data shows that, while the annual number of deer-related crashes in North Carolina decreased slightlyover the past several years, the total number of crashes statewide in 2014 still exceeded 17,000. There were 17,422 deer-related crashes in 2014 (two of which included a fatality and 1,240 which included reported injuries), compared to 19,893 in 2013.

A county-by-county comparison of the data shows that Wake County continues to have the highest number of reported deer-related crashes, with 827 in 2014. Other counties with high incidences of deer crashes in 2014 include Guilford (585), Pitt (540), Mecklenburg (489), Union (433), Randolph (426), Rockingham (408) and Duplin (407).

HSRC offers the following tips for lowering the risk of a crash with a deer.

  • Slow down. In areas with a large deer population, or where there are deer warning signs, drivers should reduce their speed.
  • Always wear a seat belt. It offers the best protection from injuries in the event of a crash.
  • 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.
  • 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 fairly large, and the animals often move one right behind the other.
  • Do not place confidence in “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.

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.