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Be Vigilant – It’s Prime Time for Deer-Vehicle Collisions

Many readers have either had a deer-vehicle collision or known someone who has. While these accidents cannot all be prevented, experts offered some precautionary tips that may help prevent injuries.

“Currently, experts estimate about 30 million white-tailed deer throughout its range,” said Brian MacGowan, Purdue Extension Wildlife Specialist. “There are probably more white-tailed deer in North America today than at the time of European settlement.”

“While deer-vehicle collisions can happen any time of year, October to December is the peak,” said MacGowan. “Most collisions occur from dusk to dawn on high-speed rural roads.”

His assertion is corroborated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), who said the month with highest risk of collisions with deer is November. “Keep your eyes peeled on the roads when you start seeing hunter’s orange: Deer season and deer-crash season are one and the same,” said Joe Young, Director of Media Relations with IIHS.

Many tactics have been tried over the years to reduce collisions. MacGowan said that most of these have proved ineffective or at least need more investigation.

“There is no foolproof way to prevent deer-vehicle collisions,” said MacGowan. “Hunting is the most biologically and economically effective method of maintaining Indiana’s deer herd at an optimal level – all else being equal, less deer translates to reduced probability of hitting a deer.” He said that fencing deer from roadways has been proven most effective at reducing accidents at specific locations, but it is very costly to construct and maintain them.

MacGowan said that in Indiana, if a deer dies following a collision with a motor vehicle, a conservation officer, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) property manager or other law enforcement officer may issue a permit to an individual to possess the deer.

Indiana DNR estimates that annually, more than 14,000 deer-vehicle collisions are reported in Indiana. They recommend the following to prevent injuries from deer-vehicle collisions:

  • Never swerve to avoid hitting a deer. Braking and hitting the deer is safer than swerving off the road or into oncoming traffic.
  • When you see one deer assume there are more. Deer often follow each other, so slow down and look for others along the side of the road.
  • Use your high beams at night to illuminate deer eyes.
  • If a deer is on or near the road, slow down. Blow your horn continuously to scare the deer away.
  • Don’t rely on novelties like deer whistles. Whistles, fences, and reflectors are ineffective at deterring deer.
  • Be alert, especially when deer are most active.
  • Observe driving safety laws, always wear a seatbelt, and observe posted speed limits. Don’t drive too closely behind other cars.

Read MacGowan’s original article, Watch Out for Deer on the Roads, on Purdue Extension Department of Forestry and Natural Resources’ Got Nature? blog at: Find the facts from Indiana DNR, Deer-Vehicle Collisions and YOU, at:

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