RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — You may have noticed more deer making an appearance lately, especially near roadways.
“This time of year is what we call the ‘deer rut,’ which is basically mating season for deer,” said Falyn Owens, an extension wildlife biologist with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. “They’re moving around a whole lot more than they do under normal circumstances.”
More deer on the move means drivers should be extra careful on the road.
According to Car and Driver, an average of about 2.1 million vehicle crashes involving deer occur in the U.S. each year. Additionally, most research indicates that over 90% of deer collisions result in damage to the vehicle involved, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
Deer are active anytime day or night during mating season, not just at dawn or dusk, Owens said.
What should I do if a deer runs into the road?
“The best thing that you can do if you see a deer in the road is brake as much as you possibly can,” Owens explained.
She said it’s very important to avoid swerving.
“If you swerve, which can be an instinct, then you’re putting yourself in danger of going into ongoing traffic or veering off the road,” she explained.
Owens said research shows the safest response you can have is to stay in your lane.
“If that means you end up hitting the deer, that’s better than swerving, because that puts you in danger of oncoming traffic or objects on the side of the road,” she said.
How to avoid deer while driving
Experts say it’s important that drivers pay attention to the wood line, where deer could be just a few feet away.
It’s also where you’ll find deer crossing signs.
“Those signs are installed in places where there has been a history of collisions with deer,” Owens explained. “So if you see one of those signs, pay attention because it genuinely is a place where deer are more likely to be crossing.”
The big takeaway: pay attention.
“Be very cognizant of what might be in the road,” Owens said. “And also, when it comes to deer, if you see one deer crossing the road, there could be others in that group that are following along. So if you see one deer, just think about the fact that there might be more.”
What if I hit one?
If you do hit a deer, Owens said, you should always call 911 to report the crash.
She said local law enforcement will help make a decision about what should happen with the deer if it’s injured or still alive.