Deer – Public Enemy Number 1 on NJ Roads – How Much Damage Have They Caused?
You probably don’t need a warning from the DOT that this is the worst time of year for car crashes involving deer.
But it can’t hurt.
Mating season is here, and that means deer are especially given to darting out into traffic in search of a willing mate.
The hormones drive them crazy…crazy enough to make you the unwilling victim of running into one.
According to the Department of Transportation, more than 400 people are hurt every year in car-versus-deer crashes; and that 8 have been killed since 2005.
From Jan. 2008 through June of this year, 1,813 injuries were reported in 34,990 vehicle accidents on state roads involving deer, according to the state.
The DOT says the numbers might be higher.
“There are a fair amount of deer accidents that go unreported,” said Tim Greeley, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation. “We have no control over that.”
In addition, many accidents occur on county and local roads in jurisdictions where officials are not obligated to report deer versus vehicle crashes.
According an insurance industry estimate, there were 30,866 deer struck by vehicles in the state in 2010. And even that estimate is considered conservative, according to state officials.
This week, the state Department of Environmental Protection, along with local officials issued warnings urging drivers to be aware of white-tailed deer on roads, especially during morning and evening commutes.
“White-tailed deer are on the move and unpredictable during this season,” said Division of Fish and Wildlife Director David Chanda.
Deer tend to breed in the fall, often wandering and darting across roads, Chanda said.
In Middlesex County this month, police in Milltown and Highland Park issued advisories warning drivers about accidents that could injure them and their passengers and perhaps heavily damage their vehicles.
Similar advisories are issued each year in parts of Morris, Sussex, Hunterdon, Essex, Passaic and Bergen counties.
“Commuters should be especially alert and drive with additional caution when daylight saving time ends on Nov. 4,” Milltown police said in a statement. “Normal driver commuting times will more closely align with peak deer activity periods after this time.”
Triggered by shorter days and cooler weather, deer disperse and move around considerably as they search for mates. Deer behavior is likely to be sudden and unpredictable, police said.
I always say it’s a matter of when, not if you’ll be involved in a crash with a deer.
The issue boils down to minimizing the amount of damage you sustain.
Like driving closer to the speed limit especially during the hours of sunset.
Like keeping an eye on the sides of roadways where deer tend to congregate.
And probably like avoid swerving into oncoming traffic if the eventual collision is unavoidable.
Got any others…please feel free to list them below.