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Deer-related accidents prevalent through December
Oct 23, 2012 5:20 pm
They are beautiful, graceful and potentially deadly. Deer are on the move these days, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol cautions motorists to watch out this fall.
An increase in deer-related crashes is likely through December due to deer mating and hunting season.
“Deer pose a danger to motorists throughout the year, but especially in the fall,” THP Col. 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 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.
Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan said size doesn't make a difference when it comes to the danger of colliding with deer.
"It doesn't have to be a big one," he said. "Even a fawn can do a lot of damage, and they can be on you before you can react and swerve to avoid them."
While having a close encounter with a deer seems like something that happens to someone else, Debbie Pare, who directs the Senior Citizens Awareness Network for the Wilson County Sheriff's Department, is someone who got up close and personal with a deer.
"In 2005 while driving home, a deer jumped a fence next to the road. When it landed, it landed on the hood of my car," she said. "I never saw it, as it came from above."
Additionally, State Farm estimates 1.09 million collisions between deer and vehicles happened in the U.S. between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011. That's 9 percent less than three years earlier.
Experts warn that 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.
Bryan agrees with this estimation. "If you see one, you'll usually see one in front of it or behind it."
Remember mating season puts deer on the move and deer tend to move at dawn and dusk.
The Department of Safety and Homeland Security and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency suggest the following tips to help prevent deer-related crashes during peak mating and hunting seasons:
• 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.
In the event of a deer crash, move the vehicle as far off the road as possible, and dial *THP (*847) from an available cellphone for assistance. The call will be connected to the nearest THP Communications Center, and a state trooper will be dispatched to the location.
The one positive thing about colliding with a deer is that Tennessee law allows deer killed in a collision to be taken and used as food. Providing you survive the encounter, contact the nearest TWRA regional office to report the accident within 48 hours, and the carcass is all yours.
For TWRA regional offices, visit the TWRA website at tnwildlife.org.
Staff writer Mary Hinds may be reached at 444-3952, ext. 45 or firstname.lastname@example.org.