NASHVILLE — As part of its traffic safety education campaign, the Tennessee Highway Patrol is reminding motorists to be vigilant of deer on the roadways. The fall is the most active time of the year for deer due to mating and hunting season, and State Troopers caution that an increase in deer-related crashes is likely through December.
“As the weather turns colder, the chances of seeing deer on or near our roadways increase dramatically,” said THP Colonel Tracy Trott. “November is usually the worst month for deer-related crashes. We want to remind all motorists to be especially alert at dawn and after sunset, and to exercise extra caution when not traveling on major thoroughfares.”
In Tennessee, between 2006 and 2010, 9.2 percent of deer-related crashes occurred on interstate highways. In 2010, there were 5,406 deer-related crashes, including 281 that involved injuries and one that was fatal. That was up by 1.6 percent from 5,320 the previous year. However, since 2006, deer-related crashes in Tennessee have decreased 7.7 percent.
Additionally, State Farm®, the nation's leading auto insurer, estimates 2.3 million collisions between deer and vehicles occurred in the U.S. between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2010. That's 21.1 percent more than five years earlier.
The Department of Safety and Homeland Security and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has 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.
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