Deer Season for Drivers, too, in Charlotte
Do deer have their own hunting season in the Carolinas? It seems like it to drivers who’ve had costly auto body damage in dangerous accidents involving the speedy, but not always smart, animals.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation reminded drivers earlier this month to be particularly alert for deer activity in the next several weeks.
2013 was the fourth straight year that N.C. drivers have had more than 20,000 animal-vehicle collisions, and about 90 percent of those wrecks involve deer.
Danny Propst of highly rated Crossroads Body Shop has seen the damage from hundreds of them.
“I think you see more of it in the rural areas, but the suburbs and even the city are getting more, as the wooded areas are developed,” says Propst, who has shops located in Wingate and Waxhaw, outside the city of Charlotte.
Propst estimates that between November and February about 25 percent of his business has to do with deer.
He says the average expense is about $3,500, but it can vary, with some vehicles totaled by a run-in with a deer. The most frequent location is the front corners, but often the deer will hit the side of the vehicle or may do damage underneath if the car runs over the animal.
Insurance usually covers the damage, but Propst recommends owners check their policy closely to see what kind of deductible they owe.
Between 2011 and 2013 about half of the more than 61,000 animal-related crashes in North Carolina took place between October through December.
State officials reported that in the past three years, animal-related crashes have claimed 18 lives and resulted in more than $149 million in damages. Most of these crashes occur between 5 and 8 p.m. and 6 and 10 a.m.
Transportation officials have few hints for how to avoid the unpredictable animals, but recommend that drivers slow down in areas known to have deer crossings and to remember that the animals often travel in groups. If drivers hit a deer, they should not touch the animal, officials say.
Auto parts stores and other merchants sell whistling devices to attach to vehicles that they say will repel deer.
But Propst says he gets a chuckle when, several times a year, he completes auto body work on a vehicle with the whistles attached that still collided with a deer.