GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- The North Carolina State Highway Patrol warns December is within the peak season for deer collisions, of which there were 20,958 statewide last year and 450 in Guilford County, alone.
Trooper David Key said it is critical for drivers to try and fight their natural instinct to veer away from deer that cross in front of their cars. "The best thing you can do is just stay in your lane. Don't swerve. Anytime you swerve, you have a greater risk of injuring yourself or someone else. The best way to avoid a deer collision--there's not a sure way, but the best thing you can do is to stay alert. Use your high beams when you can. The first thing you're going to see probably is the light reflecting in the deer's eyes."
He affirmed there is truth to the saying "deer in the headlights." Deer freeze when they face car headlights, so sometimes honking a horn can help encourage the deer to exit the roadway. A WFMY News 2 viewer from Davidson County shared another technique he said he has found successful--quickly flashing headlights at the deer, which he said makes the deer notice the car and prevents it from freezing up in headlights.
Key advised drivers also to remember deer tend to travel in herds, so if drivers see one crossing the road, they're almost always inclined to see at least one other behind it.
The NC Highway Patrol acknowledges sometimes deer collisions are unavoidable, and the agency, itself, is not immune from such accidents. Key showed WFMY News 2 a damaged trooper car, which struck a deer in Orange County recently. "I believe there's about $5,000 worth of damage to the vehicle, but the trooper was not injured," he said. Key said his division has had three deer-related accidents in recent weeks.
Key said if a driver does hit a deer, the Highway Patrol recommends he or she finds a safe place to pull over. The driver then should call his or her insurance company. If the insurance company advises the driver to get a report, the driver should call *HP (for Highway Patrol) on his or her cell phone. If the driver is within city limits, he or she should call the local police department.
According to the NC Wildlife 2012 deer density map, counties in the Triad with 45 deer per square mile include Caswell, Alamance, Alleghany and Wilkes. Counties with 30 to 44 deer per square mile include Guilford, Rockingham, Forsyth, Stokes, Surry, Yadkin and Davie.
WFMY News 2