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Deer Can Cause Trouble On Roadways This Season

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RALEIGH — The hunting season may end January 1, but this is the time of year when motorists feel like the hunted as deer make their way on the roadways.

N.C. Highway Patrolofficers now say a tanker truck, whichstopped trafficalong both lanes of Interstate 95 in Northampton County, overturned when the driver swerved to miss a deer.

Deer can cause hundreds of dangerous accidents as hunting and mating season starts. It is big business for auto body repair shops.

Jim Goodman says his shop repairs two to three vehicles a week damaged by deer.

"We fix a lot of deer hits every year," Goodman said.

But before it ends up in the auto shop, or the insurance adjuster looks at it, drivers should know washing a vehicle after a deer vehicle accident could be a big mistake.

"Let your insurance company look at the vehicle so they can photograph the vehicle, and be able to see if it was actually a deer," Goodman said.

Having deer evidence on the car would mean the usually lower comprehensive policy would kick in when the car is being repaired.

Benjamin Newkirk of Raleigh learned that lesson the hard way. A year ago, his car ended up in an auto body repair shop after grazing a tree to miss the deer.

"I swerved to get around the deer," Newkirk said. His insurance company refused to file his claim under its comprehensive policy.

"I asked the insurance company, 'What are you telling me, I should have hit the deer?'" asked Newkirk. "Technically yes. They said it would have been better to hit the deer and have the police come, and have a report than swerve to avoid the deer, because you can cause more damage that way."

State Trooper Charles Cooper says it can be a scary encounter, and it is easy for people to overreact.

He says 80 percent of deer accidents happen between sundown to sunrise.

Here are some other things to consider:
  • Deer tend to move in groups. If there is one, there may be more.
  • It is not a good idea to hit the high beams or honk the horn when confronted by deer. That will just spook them and send them running in all different directions.
  • The most important thing to remember is to never swerve to avoid a deer. In overcompensating to avoid hitting a deer, drivers run the risk of crossing the center line, and causing additional accidents or even injuries to themselves.
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    Ken Smith, Reporter
    Greg Clark, Photographer
    Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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