Vehicle-deer crashes account for about 1.5 million collisions each year across the nation, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
About 10,000 people are injured and about 150 people are killed in such accidents annually, statistics suggest. About one-third of all car-deer crashes occur during the months of October and November, statistics show, as both deer-mating and deer-hunting seasons are in full swing.
Last year there were more than 15,000 deer-related crashes in North Carolina alone, according to WNCT-TV 9. Nine were fatal. The crashes caused more than $36 million worth of property damage statewide.
In some states, the numbers of deer accidents are dropping.
October has been named Michigan Car-Deer Crash Safety Awareness Month. More than 62,000 car-deer crashes were reported in Michigan last year, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette. That figure represented a more-than-7 percent decrease from 2003 and was the first time the numbers dropped to less than 63,000 in nearly 10 years. The Michigan Deer Crash Coalition keeps track of such statistics.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol reported 29,874 deer-vehicle collisions in 2004, down 5.8 percent from the 31,729 crashes reported in 2003, according to the Insurance Journal. In 2004 there were five fatalities—down from seven in 2003—and 980 injuries.
Deer crashes also mean good business for auto repair shops. The cost for such typical front-end repairs range from $2,000 to $5,000. One body shop in Eastern North Carolina says that at least 50 percent of its late fall and winter repairs are from deer wrecks, according to the Jacksonville Daily News.
Since such collisions usually damage the headlights very few vehicles are drivable. Often deer will try to jump the vehicle, causing it to crash through the windshield and into the front seat.
What to watch out for:
--Deer usually travel in groups. If you see one crossing, look out for more.
--Pay close attention to deer grazing on the sides of roads.
--According to the UNC Highway Safety Research Center, deer accidents are more likely to happen during dusk and dawn, 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. and between 6 p.m. and midnight.
--If a deer is in your path, hit the brakes hard and stay in your lane. Swerving can cause you to hit an oncoming car.
--Often it is best to hit the deer.