Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Tracy Trott recently announced that three people were killed in crashes involving deer in 2012, cautioning motorists to be watchful of deer during the fall and winter seasons, as an increase in deer-related crashes are likely during the months of October through December.
In Tennessee, there were 5,911 deer-related crashes in 2012. That’s an increase of 4.2 percent from the 5,670 crashes involving deer the previous year. Of the 2012 figure, 5,601 were property damage, 307 were wrecks with injury and three resulted in fatalities.
In Lincoln County, there were 66 deer-related crashes reported in 2012, about 24 more than reported in the previous year and the highest total here since 2007 when that number was 72.
This year alone, 42 deer-related accidents have already been reported in Lincoln County.
“The chances of striking deer are considerably higher during hunting and mating season, especially in November. We want to urge drivers to be aware and cautious in areas where deer are populated, and most importantly, slow down,” Colonel Trott said.
THP also reports that between 2008 and 2012, 9.2 percent of deer-related crashes occurred on interstate highways. Additionally, since 2008 and 2012, 9.2 percent of deer-related crashes in Tennessee have steadily increased by 13.6 percent.
According to State Farm, the nation’s leading auto insurer, there have been an estimated 1.22 million collisions between deer and vehicles in the U.S. between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013. That’s a 3.5 percent decline from a year ago.
In the event of a deer-related crash, move the vehicle as far off the road as possible. Motorists are also encouraged to dial *THP (*847) from an available cell phone for assistance. The call will be connected to the nearest THP Communications Center and the next available State Trooper will be dispatched to the location.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency suggest the following tips to help prevent deer-related crashes during peak mating and hunting seasons: Remember that mating season puts deer on the move and deer tend to move at dawn and dusk. Whenever you see deer cross the road, expect more to follow. Many times, the second or third deer crossing becomes the one that motorists hit.
Be attentive; drive defensively, constantly scanning the roadside, especially at daybreak and dusk. 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.
When you spot a deer, slow down immediately. Proceed slowly until you pass that point. If you do collide with a deer, never approach the injured animal. They are powerful and can cause bodily harm to a human. Report any deer collision, even if the damage is minor.
Tennessee law allows deer killed in a collision to be taken and used as food, as long as you contact the nearest TWRA regional office to report the accident within 48 hours. For a listing of TWRA regional offices, visit the TWRA website at www.tnwildlife.org.