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State transportation officials are reminding North Carolina residents that deer activity peaks in the autumn months, making collisions between deer and motor vehicles far more likely. Motorists are advised to be especially cautious.

Fall mating and hunting seasons mean deer are more active than usual in the evening and overnight periods. The North Carolina Department of Transportation reports that the months from October, November, and December are when most collisions between deer and motor vehicles occur. Collisions occur most frequently in the hours between sunset and dawn, due to the combination of deer movement and poor visibility.

A review of the statistics since 2009 finds that 17 deaths, nearly 3,500 injuries, and about $139 million in property damage has been attributed to vehicles colliding with deer in North Carolina.

Safety Precautions To Take

Still, a collision with a deer isn’t itself the greatest risk. Experts worry that when motorists try extreme maneuvers to avoid a collision with wildlife, they risk losing control of their carsthereby causing a serious North Carolina auto accident. State Traffic Engineer Kevin Lacy told reporters, “If you can’t avoid a deer, it is better to hit it than to lose control of your vehicle and cause a bigger accident.”

The Department of Transportation has been sharing tips for avoiding vehicle crashes with deer. Among those recommendations:

Slow down and exercise increased alertness in posted deer crossing areas and while driving near wooded areas, especially later in the day and overnight.

Watch for eyes reflecting in your headlights.

Because deer often travel in groups, exercise greater caution if you see a deer pass. More may be hiding in underbrush nearby.

When driving in the fall months, increase your following distance behind the car ahead of you. This will give you more time to react if the lead vehicle encounters a deer.