Local News

Wake County Leads State In Deer-Related Crashes

Posted October 5, 2006 8:24 a.m. EDT

— As Wake County grows, more people are moving into deer habitats. Along with that growth, the number of collisions between deer and car crashes is also rising. Such accidents took place nearly 2,6000 times from 2003 to 2005, giving Wake County the highest number of deer wrecks in North Carolina.

Studies show that 90 percent of accidents involving animals include a deer. Since 2003 in North Carolina, nearly 3,000 collisions with deer resulted in an injury, and 19 of those killed someone inside the vehicle. During that period, deer-related accidents also caused $104 million in property damage.

Trooper K.J. McCray of the state Highway Patrol had just worked a deer wreck when he talked to WRAL on Thursday.

"The vehicle was traveling northbound on Burlington Mills Road," said McCray. "The driver says he saw a deer standing on the left side of the roadway, and as he got close to the deer, the deer suddenly entered the roadway."

The Ford Expedition had its run in with the deer near a body shop off Capital Boulevard. The main impact was made with the right front fender, knocking off the side view mirror and damaging the entire side of the truck.

"It doesn't matter if you're in a rural area or you're on Interstate 40, it can happen anywhere and I've seen it happen anywhere," said Mike Lanza with Atlas Collision Center.

During his 22 years in the body shop business, Lanza said he has seen a steady stream of cars badly damaged in deer wrecks.

"I think motorists are amazed on how much damage a deer can do," Lanza said. "When they come at you full-speed, they can do a lot of damage."

People have debated the effectiveness of deer whistles. WRAL found a car badly damaged by a deer wreck that had two deer whistles on the bumper.

The experts said motorists shouldn't flash their lights or honk their horn. That would startle the deer. They said that the best advice is to stay alert and slow down.

"Be cautious and respect that deer just like you respect another motorist on the side of the road," McCray said.