NC deer-related crashes increase in the fall
Advice for Drivers: Buckle Up, Slow Down and Look Out for Deer
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (Fall 2020) — North Carolina motor vehicle crashes involving deer typically peak during the fall months, and the state’s most recent crash data indicate that trend continued in 2019. More than half of all 2019 deer-related crashes in N.C. happened in October, November, and December, with more than a quarter occurring in November alone.
“Deer-related crashes increase during prime mating season in the fall,” said Randa Radwan, director of the UNC Highway Safety Research Center. “North Carolina motorists should be especially careful in the early morning and early evening hours. In 2019, more than 85 percent of deer-related crashes occurred between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m.” Also, in 2019, 11,476 of the deer-related crashes, more than three fifths of the total, occurred when the light conditions were dark with no streetlights.
Data show the number of N.C. deer-related crashes in 2019 rose to 18,254 (one of which included a fatality and 693 of which included reported injuries), compared with 15,950 in 2018 (three of which included fatalities and 620 of which included reported injuries).
A county-by-county comparison of the data shows that Wake County continues to have the highest number of reported deer-related crashes, with 981 in 2019. Other counties with high rates of deer crashes in 2019 include Guilford (622), Pitt (559), Randolph (499), Union (498), and Mecklenburg (470).
The UNC Highway Safety Research Center offers the following guidelines 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.
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.