With Approach of Fall, Beware of Deer on the Road

Updated for 2019

The fall of the year is one of the most dangerous times to be a driver due to the increased likelihood of collisions with deer. North Carolina ranks as one of the top states for vehicle/deer collisions and with the approach of the fall mating season deer are more active and less wary. Within the state, Wake County ranks at the top of the list for deer collisions with Guilford County ranking fifth followed closely by Randolph County.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation estimates nearly 20,000 auto/deer collisions a year resulting in more than 5,000 injuries and an average property damage of over $3,000. Nationally, there are more than 150 fatalities a year from such accidents.

Following are suggestions for avoiding dangerous deer collisions.

  • Slow down - Slow down in posted deer crossing areas and heavily wooded areas, especially during the late afternoon and evening. The hours between 5 and 7 p.m. are the worst for auto/deer collisions.
  • Be cautious near bridges - Statistics indicate most car-deer crashes occur near bridges or overpasses. Deer also follow railroad tracks, streams and ditches.
  • Turn on your lights - Drive with high beams on, when possible, and watch out for eyes reflecting in the headlights.
  • If you see one deer, there is likely more - Remember that deer often travel in groups, so do not assume that the road is clear if one deer has already passed.
  • Don't swerve - 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.
  • Honk your horn - If you see a deer near or on the road, give your car horn one long blast and slow down. This sound gives the deer an audible signal to avoid.
  • Remain cautious - Slow down if you see a deer on the shoulder of the road. They are just as likely to bolt into the path of an oncoming car as away from it so you need to be prepared to stop.
  • Keep your distance - 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.
  • Move your vehicle to the shoulder (if you hit the deer) - If you hit a deer, move your vehicle to the shoulder of the road, if possible and turn on your flashers. If the deer remains in the roadway and traffic allows move the deer off the roadway to the shoulder. If you are unable to move the deer, call 911.
  • Don't approach the animal if hit - If you stop and the deer is injured, but not dead, do not approach the animal. Injured wild animals, especially male deer with antlers, can be dangerous.
  • Don't load the deer - Do not attempt to load an injured or dead deer into your vehicle. Possession of game animals without a valid license is against the law.

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