The number of vehicle crashes involving animals in 2020 decreased by 8.5% from 2019, according to a new report from the North Carolina Department of Transportation's Traffic Safety Unit. A total of 18,607 crashes occured in 2020, usually involving deer. In the past three years, 56,942 animal crashes occurred in the state killing six people, injuring 2,698, and causing over $160 million in damage. The report, which is complied each year, found that nearly half of vehicle crashes involving animals happened at night, between October and December. About 7% of all vehicle crashes involve animal strikes. Wake County had the most animal-related vehicle crashes with 2,570 incidents in the past three years. Pitt County is second on the list with 1,712 animal crashes. Brunswick (1,344), Columbus (1,379), Duplin (1,397), and Robeson (1,307) counties ranked among the top 10.
NCDOT offers this safety advice regarding animal crashes:
- Always maintain a safe amount of distance between your vehicle and others, especially at night. If the vehicle ahead of you hits a deer, you could also become involved in the crash.
- Slow down in areas posted with deer crossing signs and in heavily wooded areas, especially during the late afternoon and evening.
- Most deer-vehicle crashes occur where deer are more likely to travel, near bridges or overpasses, railroad tracks, streams and ditches.
- Drive with high beams on when possible and watch for deer eyes reflecting in the headlights.
- Deer often travel in small herds so if you see one deer near a road be alert for others.
- If you see deer near a road, slow down and blow your horn with one long blast
- Do not swerve to avoid a collision. This could cause you to lose control of your vehicle and cause a more serious crash.
- If your vehicle does strike a deer, do not touch the animal. A frightened and wounded deer can be dangerous or further injure itself. Get your vehicle off the road, if possible, and call 911