The Tennessee Highway Patrol cautions motorists to watch out for deer on or near the roadways this fall season.
An increase in deer-related crashes is likely during the months of October through December due to deer mating and hunting season.
“Deer pose a danger to motorists throughout the year, but especially in the fall,” THP Colonel Tracy Trott said. “November is typically the worst month for deer-related crashes. It is important to exercise caution, slow down and stay alert in areas where deer are populated.”
In Tennessee, between 2007 and 2011, 9.2 percent of deer-related crashes occurred on interstate highways. In 2011, there were 5,644 deer-related crashes, including 285 that involved injuries and two that were fatal. That was up by 4.2 percent from 5,418 the previous year. However, since 2007, deer-related crashes in Tennessee have increased 5.9 percent.
State Farm, the nation’s leading auto insurer, estimates 1.09 million collisions between deer and vehicles occurred in the U.S. between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011. That’s nine percent less than three years earlier.
In Lincoln County from 2007 and 2011, an average of 50 deer-related crashes occurred each year. Neighboring Giles and Marshall counties had an average of 71 and 61, respectively. Around 45 crashes involving deer occur in Bedford County each year, 37 in Franklin County, 33 in Coffee County and three in Moore County.
The Department of Safety and Homeland Security and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency suggest several 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.
“Our agency appreciates the Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s efforts to remind drivers to be aware of the increase of deer activity at this time of year,” Don King, TWRA Chief of Information and Education said.
In the event of a deer crash, move the vehicle as far off the road as possible, and dial *THP (*847) from an available cell phone for assistance. The call will be connected to the nearest THP Communications Center and a State Trooper will be dispatched to the location.
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 TWRA regional offices, visit the TWRA website at www.tnwildlife.org.