Fall is most dangerous season for car-deer crashes

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 11:56pm
Staff reports

Much like the mating rituals of a teenage boy trailing the faint scent of perfume wafting after his potential love interest, deer are often lured down an unfortunate path by the scent of a female.

Adolescent boys usually outgrow their teen years with only minor embarrassment, but for deer, mating season or rut, which runs from October to December, can be fatal.

The number of deer-related car crashes in Tennessee rises dramatically in the fall months. November — the start of deer-hunting season — is the worst month for deer-related crashes. A five-year statewide average shows there were 1,199 crashes per year from 2005-2009.

In 2009, there were 5,247 deer-related crashes, including 268 that involved injuries and one that was fatal, according the Tennessee Department of Transportation. That was up by almost 2 percent from 5,157 the previous year. However, since 2005, deer-related crashes in Tennessee have risen over 8.5 percent.

In February, an 8-year-old girl was killed, and her father and three siblings injured, when a deer crashed through the windshield of their car as they drove along Highway 100 near Percy Warner Park.

Davidson County statistics follow a similar course. In 2004, there were 156 car-deer collisions. That number has climbed each year with 176 in 2005, 177 in 2006, 172 in 2007 and 194 in 2008.

Nationally, the figures are even more profound. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported approximately 150 deaths a year from deer-car collisions and $1 billion in vehicle damage.

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.

“Motorists should always be aware of the likelihood of deer traveling on or around the roadways, no matter what time of year,” said THP Col. Tracy Trott. “However, it is particularly important to pay attention and stay alert, especially on roads less traveled, during hunting and mating season.”

Motorists should exercise extra caution when not traveling on a major thoroughfare. Between 2005 and 2009, less than 10 percent of deer-related crashes occurred on interstate highways.

The Department of Safety and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency offers 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.

• 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.

6 Comments on this post:

By: willtw on 10/13/10 at 4:54

Between 2003 and 2007, we had contact with 3 deer in separate areas, usually in early dark but between 11 PM and 3 AM, much worse....Hwy 100 between Natchez Trace and Hwy 96, Blue Hole Rd 200 yds off Bell and Edmondson Pike before the curve and caution light near Banbury. Audible whistles, buzzers do NOT work...In 2 of the 3 accidents, major damage in the several thousands and the 3rd was grill and plastic....The deer were NOT hit, they ran into the side, out of immediae sight. In the Blue Hole contact, 3 doe were standing in the middle of the road and all three charged directly into the front even though the vehicle was stopped 40 yards from the 3. Headlites confuse...usually the best way to avoid is to stop, turn on 4 way flashers and that impulse detours the deer.

By: willtw on 10/13/10 at 4:56

I forgot there was a fourth in 2002, Franklin Road between Moore's Ln and Mack Hatcher...the deer went in behind the left front tire, taking the pan and part suspension requiring a tow...cost, $8,000. !!!!!

By: mtlycru1 on 10/13/10 at 5:53

There are several roads in the Old Hickory/Hermitage area where deer are prominent. The fields of the Hermitage itself is an area where many live year round. Shute lane between Lebanon Road and Old Hickory Blvd. is especially prone to have them. I've seen many standing by the roadside and a few cross.

And it is true - if there is one, more follow. I had the misfortune of being behind someone who hit the 4th or many deer that were crossing the road (many were very small). My sister, who is a vet tech and I tried to save the animal but it was too late. I also agree, if you are not familiar with wild animals, do NOT attempt to assist the animal - leave your car parked in front of the wounded animal and immediately call the police or animal control as most of the time they can be saved.

By: Loretta Bridge on 10/13/10 at 10:33

We are on Hwy 100 almost every day for the last 6 years. There is seldom a day that we do not see deer. That is especially near the park. We just count our blessing that we are in an area that we can see deer, wild turkey and people. We also pray daily that we do not hit one AGAIN. If you live in Nashville then you just have to be careful. Often we see them in our yard at sundown.

By: Loretta Bridge on 10/13/10 at 10:34


By: SirKnight on 10/14/10 at 9:05

I can name three people who lost their lives to collisions with deer on the open road. One was an off-duty police officer on his motorcycle in Williamson County on Franklin Road. The most recent was a young girl who died while sitting in the back seat of her father's car when a dear rammed through the windshield on a short stretch of Hwy 100 near Old Hickory Blvd.last fall. Wish there was someway to help them not act so suicidal when they see a car or motorcycle. Do you suppose they feel threatened by them as they zoom down the road? What is the answer?