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Deer Whistles May Not Prevent Accidents

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RALEIGH, N.C. — It is mating season for deer, and that is breeding a huge number of deer wrecks across the Triangle. Some motorists are using deer whistles -- the bumper-mounted, high-pitched warning devices that are supposed to prevent deer from crossing the road in front of you, but do they work?

Dick Lancia, a researcher from N.C. State, says study results on the effectivenesss of deer whistles are clear.

"These whistles are largely ineffective, can't be absolutely proven that they're not effective, but the results would indicate that they're largely ineffective," Lancia said.

Blake Farley, manager of a body shop in the Triangle, has seen a number of vehicles come into his shop recently. He has his own thoughts about the deer whistles.

"In my opinion, it does seem that we see more deer strikes without the whistles on the vehicle than we do with the vehicles with the whistles in place," he said.

The Triangle's deer population is growing and deer/driver encounters are also on the rise. What is confusing is the central selling point of the whistles -- a high-pitched sound humans cannot hear.

"Most of the research on deer physiology indicates that deer hear approximately the same frequencies as human beings," said Carl Bettsel of the North Carolina Division of Wildlife Resources. "Usually, these sounds are not within the human hearing range, and so I doubt very seriously if they do actually deter deer from running out."

Despite what the research shows, if you still want to buy a deer whistle, you can get them at most auto parts stores for about $6.

Here are a few tips to remember about dealing with deer while driving:

  • Eighty percent of deer wrecks happen on two-lane rural roads between dawn and dusk.
  • Experts say it is important to pay attention to deer crossing signs. They are only placed where there have been several deer accidents.
  • Do not honk your horn or flash your headlights at a deer. Just slow down and know where there is one deer, more will probably follow.
  •  Credits

    Mark Roberts, Reporter
    Keith Baker, Photographer
    Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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