Fall is a beautiful time of the year in North Carolina but from October to December, drivers must remain vigilant on the roads to avoid deer-vehicle collisions. Deer movement increases dramatically during this time because of mating and hunting seasons, 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 – most of these involve deer.
Wake County had the highest number of animal crashes for a three-year period from 2019-2021 with 2,770. Wake County usually leads the state in the animal report due to its large geographic size and its fast residential growth.
From 2019-2021, the top 10 counties in the state had a combined 16,597 animal crashes over the last three years. Those crashes caused a nearly combined $48.7 million in damage, 751 injuries and six deaths. The top 10 counties in animal crashes for three years combined are as follows:
|1. Wake ||2,770|
|2. Pitt ||1,908|
|3. Guilford ||1,874|
|5. Union ||1,518|
|6. Duplin ||1,412|
|7. Robeson ||1,378|
|8. Mecklenburg ||1,363|
|9. Columbus ||1,357|
Below are important tips 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.