Local News

Record number of deer crashes in N.C., officials say

Posted October 1, 2009 12:48 p.m. EDT

— Vehicle crashes involving deer rose to an all-time high in North Carolina in 2008, despite an overall drop in the total number of wrecks and miles driven, officials said Thursday.

A new study from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill found that crashes reported to police involving deer on state roadways increased from 19,277 in 2007 to 19,693. In that same period, total reported crashes fell from 224,307 to 214,358, and vehicle miles traveled dropped by 2 percent.

Deer were involved in 9.2 percent of reported wrecks last year, up from 8.6 percent in 2007.

"Deer crashes continue to be a growing concern for motorists in North Carolina," David Harkey, director of the UNC Highway Safety Research Center, said in a statement. "Since 2004, we've seen a 27 percent increase in deer-related crashes, while total crashes during the same period decreased by 7 percent."

Wake County topped the list, with 1,084 deer-related crashes. Other counties with high numbers of deer crashes in 2008 include Guilford, Rockingham, Duplin, Pitt and Mecklenburg.

About half of deer-related wrecks occur in October, November and December, Harkey said. Deer are particularly restless and agitated during these months due to mating season and locating new food resources, he said.

Drivers should be particularly careful in the early morning and early evening hours, Harkey said, noting almost 80 percent of deer-related crashes last year occurred between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.