Record deer crashes likely to double
Already at a five-year high in Marion County, traffic accidents involving deer are likely to more than double in the next few weeks as breeding season reaches its peak.
Seven accidents reported this week bring to 146 the number of deer-related accidents reported in Marion County in the past 12 months.
That’s one accident every 2½ days. If past years are a guide, that pace is about to increase to nearly one accident a day over the next eight weeks, when breeding season encourages deer to travel more and to pay less attention to hazards as they move to new habitats.
Mating season, also known as rutting, also coincides with a shortening of daylight hours and increased travel around fall holidays.
Nationwide, deer strikes increased 7.2% and caused an estimated $2.1 million in claims in the most recent year for which data are available, according to State Farm Insurance.
In Marion County, deer accidents in the 12 months that ended this week increased 21.7% over the comparable period a year previous.
Possibly because of decreased travel during peak pandemic conditions, the number of deer strikes actually was down last year — the only decline in five years of consistent growth.
Over five years, the number of deer-related accidents in Marion County has risen 10.6%, according sheriff’s department accident reports tabulated by the newspaper.
Deer accidents can happen at any time of the day, but safety experts warn to be especially watchful at dawn and dusk, when deer are most active.
Deer seldom travel alone. Drivers often avoid a single animal only to find that another one bolts out without being noticed.
Deer are particularly likely to emerge from wooded and green spaces near creeks and ponds.
When no oncoming traffic is present, using high-beam lights can help drivers detect deer in time to slow down and avoid collisions.
Drivers are urged never to swerve to avoid hitting a deer.
A collision with a deer may cause damage, but more serious crashes typically result when drivers swerve to avoid a relatively small deer and instead hit a much larger and faster moving vehicle or run off the road and hit a fixed obstacle