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Tennessee Highway Patrol urges motorists to watch out for deer

Staff Reports • Updated Oct 11, 2016 at 2:00 PM

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Highway Patrol cautions motorists to watch out for deer on or near the roadways during the fall season. 

An increase in deer-related crashes is likely during the months of October through December due to deer mating and hunting season.

“A crash with a deer can be a very serious and dangerous incident,” said THP Col. Tracy Trott. “Deer pose a danger to motorists throughout the year, especially in the fall. Our stats show November is typically the worst month for deer-related crashes. It is important motorist exercise caution, slow down and remain alert in areas where deer are populated.”

In Tennessee, between 2011 and 2015, 22 percent of deer-related crashes happened on interstate highways.  In 2015, there were 6,953 deer-related crashes, including 351 that involved injuries and 0 that were fatal. That was up by 8.15 percent from 6,429 the previous year. However, since 2011, deer-related crashes in Tennessee have increased 22.04 percent.  

The Department of Safety and Homeland Security, Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency suggest the following tips to help prevent deer-related crashes during peak mating and hunting seasons:

• remember that mating season puts deer on the move and deer tend to move at dawn and dusk.

• whenever you see deer cross the road, expect more to follow. Many times, the second or third deer crossing becomes the one that motorists hit.

• be attentive; drive defensively, constantly scanning the roadside, especially at daybreak and dusk.

• do not swerve to avoid contact with deer. This could cause the vehicle to flip or veer into oncoming traffic, causing a more serious crash. Swerving also can confuse the deer as to where to run.

• when a deer is spotted, slow down immediately. Proceed slowly until the deer is passed.

• anyone who collides with a deer should never approach the injured animal. They are powerful and can cause bodily harm to a human. Report any deer collision, even if the damage is minor.

 “October and November are prime months for the rut, which is the time of year when male deer (bucks) are focused on seeking females,” said Don King, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s chief of information and education. “Many times bucks will be less aware of their surroundings, including traffic, as they follow their natural instincts in seeking does.”

In the event of a deer crash, move the vehicle as far off the road as possible and dial *THP from an available cellphone for assistance.  The call will be connected to the nearest THP communications center, and a state trooper will be dispatched to the location.

Tennessee law allows deer killed in a collision to be taken and used as food, as long as the nearest TWRA regional office is contacted and the accident is reported within 48 hours. For TWRA regional offices, visit the TWRA website at tnwildlife.org

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