Peak season arrives for deer-related crashes

  • Published
  • By Eric T. Hoehn
  • 88th Air Base Wing Safety Office

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Between September and January each year, Ohio drivers face a significant upsurge in the risk of deer-related traffic crashes.

Wildlife experts say the combination of fewer daylight hours with increased deer movement due to mating and hunting seasons elevates the chances of collisions between deer and vehicles.

In 2019, statistics from the Ohio State Highway Patrol show there were 19,375 deer-related crashes on Ohio’s roadways. Of those incidents, four resulted in motorist fatalities and 966 people were hurt. In addition, 46 percent of these crashes occurred in October, November and December.

Though most people would expect these accidents to occur more frequently in rural areas, motorists in the state’s urban regions also need to watch out for these dangerous — and sometimes deadly — collisions involving deer.

Ohio has 8 million drivers, over 120,000 miles of roadway and an estimated 700,000 deer. While trying to predict when and where a deer and motorist will meet is an impossible task, drivers who understand how the animals behave are more likely to avoid a crash.

The Ohio Department of Transportation advises motorists to use these tips to help avoid deer collisions:

  • See the signs: Deer-crossing signs are posted in high-risk areas. Drive with extreme caution, especially in the posted areas.
  • Deer don’t roam alone: Deer often run together. If you see one deer near or crossing the road, expect that others will follow.
  • Danger from dusk to dawn: Watch for deer, especially at dawn and after sunset. About 20 percent of these crashes occur in early morning, while more than half take place between 5 p.m. and midnight.
  • Safety begins behind the wheel: Always wear safety belts and drive at safe, sensible speeds for road conditions.

If a vehicle strikes a deer, motorists should report the crash by calling local law enforcement, the Ohio State Highway Patrol or Ohio Department of Natural Resources — even if there is no damage.

By following these tips and maximizing our situational awareness, we can make it less likely to experience a deer-vehicle crash this fall and winter.