As fall is beginning here in Middle Tennessee, and the trees are beginning to change, drivers are urged to watch for another change, that of increased deer activity. While you may think of deer in terms of cute animals in a Disney movie or something to hunt on the weekends, you should remember one other quality deer possess. They are the deadliest animal in the United States.
Seem unlikely? Consider that last year in Tennessee, there were 6,953 deer-related crashes and 351 of those resulted in injuries. The state was lucky last year, as there were no fatal collisions, for humans, out of those crashes. However, the number of deer-related crashes have increased by 22 percent since 2011.
The reasons are varied. More development encroaches on areas where deer live and there are few predators to cull deer herds. Miles driven has increased as the economy has improved. Potentially, some crashes could even be caused by distracted drivers not watching for deer.
November is the peak time for deer-vehicle collisions in Tennessee, and drivers should remain alert and watch for deer, especially early in the morning and at dusk, when they are most active.
You should also remember that as unfortunate as it may be to strike a deer, it is better to brake and hit the deer, rather than attempt to swerve or to attempt some other evasive action.
You are more likely to lose control of your vehicle, and either go off the road and strike some object like a tree, utility pole or lose control and cross the center line of the road potentially crashing head-on into another vehicle. There is also an increased risk of a roll-over if you run off the road into a ditch.
If you see deer in the vicinity, you should slow down as they travel in herds and there are likely more present.