Arnold motorists urged to take caution as return of peak deer-vehicle collision season approaches

  • Published
  • By John Lamb, AEDC Facility Support Services

Every year, there are more than one million deer-vehicle collisions, or DVCs, in the United States resulting in more than 200 human deaths.

State Farm lists Tennessee as number 32 in its ranking of states where you are most likely to be involved in a DVC. While the likelihood of this happening at Arnold Air Force Base has decreased over the last few decades, caution is still urged.

An analysis of 32 years of DVC data at Arnold AFB reveals that October through January is when deer collisions peak. On base, motorists should always assume they are driving through deer habitat but, based on analysis of the locations of DVCs since 2002, there appears to be areas at Arnold where DVCs are more concentrated and pose higher risk.

The following tips for avoiding DVCs were compiled from a number of sources such as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Tennessee Department of Safety, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Highway Loss Data Institute, Deer-Vehicle Crash Information Clearinghouse and Michigan Deer Crash Coalition, all of which offer similar advice. These tips include:

  • Use extreme caution during the months of October through January.
  • If you see one deer, you should expect others.
  • Be attentive from sunset to midnight and hours shortly before and after sunrise. These are the highest risk periods for DVCs.
  • When driving at night, reduce your speed and use high-beam headlights when possible. The high-beams will better illuminate the eyes of deer on or near the roadway.
  • Slow down when you notice a deer in or near your path but stay in your lane. Many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or lose control of their cars.
  • Do not rely on devices such as deer whistles to deter deer because they have been proven not to change deer behavior.
  • Avoid the use of cell phones and other distractions while driving.
  • Scan both the roadway and roadsides.
  • Be especially careful in the rain – deer can be harder to see and they slip easily on the pavement.

If a DVC is unavoidable, the same sources offer this advice:

  • Don’t swerve, brake firmly, stay in your lane, hold onto the steering wheel and bring your vehicle to a controlled stop.
  • Pull off the roadway. Turn on the vehicle hazard flashers and be careful of other traffic when you leave your car.
  • Don’t attempt to remove a deer from the roadway unless you’re convinced it’s dead. A deer can inflict serious injuries.
  • Contact law enforcement to report the incident. At Arnold, be sure to report it to the AEDC Security Forces office or the Operations Center so that we can continue to track and evaluate the problem.
  • Contact your insurance agent or company representative to report any damage to your car. Collision with a deer is usually covered under the comprehensive portion of your automobile policy.

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.