To anyone who’s been driving our mountain roads during the past few weeks, it comes as no surprise to know that more than half of all vehicle-deer collisions occur in late fall and early winter. Across the state, that statistic equals tens of thousands of accidents, with injuries and even fatalities, and the average vehicle damage assessment nearing $5,000.
While the North Carolina Department of Transportation has no crystal ball to alert drivers to place and time of possible animal-vehicle collisions, it does have some solid information for mitigating such occurrences.
Slow down at deer-posted crossings, heavily wooded areas and places deer are likely to travel, such as near water sources, bridges, overpasses and railroad tracks. Such places are especially active during the late afternoon and evening.
Drive with your high beams when possible and watch for the reflection of eyes in your headlights.
Of course, deer travel in groups. If you see one, there are likely more around. And, when you do spot them, slow down and blow your horn to frighten them away.
Know that deer whistles and reflectors are not proven to reduce deer-vehicle accidents.
But, if you do happen to strike a deer, do not touch the animal. A frightened and wounded deer will likely lash out. Get your car off the road if you can and call 911. An officer will guide you from there.
Don’t assume your car is drivable — check for damage and leaks.
And, most important, wear your seatbelt. NCDOT statistics indicate that the majority of driver and passenger injuries from deer-vehicle collisions occur among those not wearing their safety belt.