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Tennessee Highway Patrol warns Motorists to watch out for Deer

October through December Worst Time For Deer-Related Crashes

The Tennessee Highway PatrolNashville, TN – The Tennessee Highway Patrol cautions motorists to watch out for deer on or near the roadways this fall season. An increase in deer-related crashes is likely during the months of October through December due to deer mating and hunting season.

“Deer pose a danger to motorists throughout the year, but especially in the fall,” THP Colonel 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 areas where deer are populated.”

A deer crossing a road
A deer crossing a road

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.

Additionally, State Farm®, the nation’s leading auto insurer, estimates 1.09 million collisions between deer and vehicles occurred in the U.S. between July 1st, 2010 and June 30th, 2011. That’s nine percent less than three years earlier.

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:

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.

“Our agency appreciates the Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s efforts to remind drivers to be aware of the increase of deer activity at this time of year,” Don King, TWRA Chief of Information and Education said.

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

Enclosed are statistics for deer-related crashes in Tennessee from 2007 – 2011.  Additional data regarding deer-related crashes can be found at: http://www.tn.gov/safety/stats/CrashData/StatewideDeerCrashesByCounty.pdf

Deer Crashes Statewide by Month, 2007 – 2011
Crash Month 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 5 Yr Totals 5 Yr Average
January 413 417 353 320 428 1,931 386
February 292 270 304 275 345 1,486 297
March 279 288 252 334 276 1,429 286
April 256 248 314 301 301 1,420 284
May 289 310 354 386 369 1,708 342
June 397 369 363 385 374 1,888 378
July 365 292 269 317 272 1,515 303
August 345 293 246 226 275 1,385 277
September 346 278 216 306 288 1,434 287
October 588 599 594 660 589 3,030 606
November 1,035 1,230 1,348 1,292 1,317 6,222 1,244
December 724 610 707 616 810 3,467 693
Totals 5,329 5,204 5,320 5,418 5,644 26,915 5,383
Source: Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, Research, Planning, and Development; 16 Oct, 2012.


About the Tennessee Department of Safety

The Tennessee Department of Safety’s mission is (www.TN.Gov/safety) to ensure the safety and general welfare of the public.  The department encompasses the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Office of Homeland Security and Driver License Services. General areas of responsibility include law enforcement, safety education, motorist services and terrorism prevention.


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