Drivers should remain vigilant on the roads to avoid deer-vehicle collisions, especially between September and December. Deer movement increases dramatically during this time, and limited lighting makes it more difficult for drivers to see them on or near roads.
According to the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Traffic Safety Unit, about 7 percent of all vehicle crashes in the state involve animal strikes.
Orange County had a total of 706 animal crashes from 2018-2020. These collisions with deer resulted in 33 injuries and a total of $2.2 million in damages reported. More data from around the state is available at https://www.ncdot.gov/initiatives-policies/safety/driving-safety/Pages/deer-collisions.aspx ;
Below are important tips from the NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) regarding animal (usually deer) crashes:
- Always maintain a safe amount of distance between your vehicle and others, especially at night. If the vehicle ahead of you hits a deer, you could also become involved in the crash.
- Slow down in areas posted with deer crossing signs and in heavily wooded areas, especially during the late afternoon and evening.
- Most deer-vehicle crashes occur where deer are more likely to travel, near bridges or overpasses, railroad tracks, streams and ditches.
- Drive with high beams on when possible and watch for deer eyes reflecting in the headlights.
- Deer often travel in small herds so if you see one deer near a road be alert for others.
- If you see deer near a road, slow down and blow your horn with one long blast
- Do not swerve to avoid a collision. This could cause you to lose control of your vehicle and cause a more serious crash.
If your vehicle does strike a deer, do not touch the animal. A frightened and wounded deer can be dangerous or further injure itself. Get your vehicle off the road, if possible, and call 911.