It’s deer season… on Ohio’s roadways. The Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Ohio Department of Insurance, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, AAA and the Williams County Safe Communities Coalition are all reminding drivers that November is peak time for deer-related crashes.
Motor vehicle crashes involving deer typically peak during the fall months and Williams County’s most recent crash data indicates that trend continued in 2021.
Williams County Safe Communities Coalition members reviewed animal crash density mapping statistics for 2017-2021 at their November 3rd coalition meeting.
Traffic Crash Data over a five-year period from 2017-2021 was compiled by Faria Amin, Planner/ GIS Analyst, Maumee Valley Planning Organization.
At the coalition meeting, the mapping data was discussed and noted that most of our deer related crashes are property related only and occur on dark, non-lighted roadways during the early morning hours and at night.
Once again Ohio drivers are urged to drive with caution especially during the month of November, the leading month for deer-vehicle crashes in the state.
The dawn and dusk hours are the most likely times for deer-involved crashes with 25% pf crashes occurring between 5:00 a.m. and 7:59 a.m
Since 2017, statistics from OSHP show there were 103,752 deer-related crashes on Ohio’s roadways.
While 95% of deer-related crashes only resulted in property damage, 30 crashes resulted in fatal injuries.
- Nearly 43% of these crashes occurred in October, November, and December.
- The top counties for deer related crashes are Stark, Richland, Hancock, Williams, Trumbull and Defiance with I-71, SR-2 and US-30 being the top roadways where deer-related crashes occur in Ohio.
According to ODNR, deer become visibly active from late October through November. This is due in large part to the fall breeding season.
While males pursue prospective mates throughout the season, they often encounter females that are not yet willing to breed, which can result in pursuits where deer will dart into roadways with little caution.
This unpredictable movement leads to an increase in deer-related vehicle crashes.
How to avoid animal collisions:
- Scan the road ahead: Looking ahead helps provide enough reaction time if an animal is spotted. Also, remember some animals, like deer, move in groups, so when there is one, there are usually more in the area.
- Use high beam headlights if there is no oncoming traffic: This can help you spot deer or other wildlife more quickly and give you time to slow down, move over or honk the horn to scare the animal away. High beams also help in spotting animals’ reflective eyes.
- Be extra cautious at dawn and dusk: Deer tend to be more active in the early morning and at dusk. That’s why these are peak times for deer-vehicle collisions.
- If a collision is unavoidable, apply the brakes firmly and remain in your lane: Swerving to avoid an animal can often cause a more serious crash or cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Drivers who swerve to miss a deer and hit something else may be charged for an at-fault crash.
- Always wear a seatbelt and remain awake, alert, and sober: The chances of getting injured when hitting an animal are much higher if you don’t have your seatbelt on. If you’re distracted or drowsy, you’re not properly scanning the road for deer and could end up spotting them too late. What to do if you hit a deer: The Ohio Highway State Patrol advises drivers who are in a crash with a deer to pull over to a safe location off the roadway, turn on your hazard lights and dial 911 and wait for help to arrive. Animal crashes continue to be the most common reason for crashes in Williams County.
- Following the collision, call the police. • Avoid making contact with the deer/animal. A frightened and wounded animal can be dangerous and pose a threat when approached or might further injure itself.
- Activate the vehicle’s hazard lights whether it’s light or dark outside.
- If possible, move the vehicle to a safe location out of the roadway, and wait for help to arrive.
- Drivers should contact their insurance agent or company representative as quickly as possible to report any vehicle damage. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are about 1 million car crashes with deer each year, which kill 200 Americans, cause more than 10,000 personal injuries, and result in $1 billion in vehicle damage.