CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Now that it's fall, it's also the time of year that drivers are more likely to run into deer -- literally. And with more people moving to the state, reports of deer-related car accidents are on the rise.
Traffic accidents involving deer have nearly doubled over the past 10 years, a new study by researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill revealed.
The UNC Highway Safety Research Center reported that there were 15,000 accidents involving deer and nine people were killed trying to avoid a collision in 2004.
"When they swerved to avoid the deer, they lost control of their vehicle, perhaps went off one side of the road and hit a fixed object," Eric Rodgman, with the UNC Highway Safety Research Center, said.
Evin Stanford, of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, said many of the accidents involving deer happened "in those urban-suburban type areas where development is occurring."
Wake County accounted for 900 deer-related accidents -- the highest number of accidents in the state. The study also showed that the counties of Caswell, Bertie, Jones, Washington, Duplin, Pender, Gates and Hyde each had deer-related crash ratios that were at least five times the state average.
To avoid accidents involving deer, the UNC-Chapel Hill researchers recommended that drivers watch their speed.
"Slow down in areas with a large deer population, particularly on rural roads and where there are warning signs," Carolina researcher Katy Jones said.
Researchers added that deer will be seen more in the months of October, November and December in the early mornings, right before the sun rises, and late at night.
Deer also travel in herds, researchers said. When one crosses the highway, others are sure to follow, they said.