Deer-vehicle collisions declining at Arnold

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, TENN. -- The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates that 1.3 million deer-vehicle collisions (DVCs) occur each year in the U.S. resulting in approximately $1 billion in vehicle damage.

Nationwide there are an average of around 200 fatalities annually.

While the annual rate of DVCs is highly variable at Arnold Air Force Base, there has been a declining trend over the past 30 years.

According to the Deer-Vehicle Crash Information Clearinghouse (DVCIC), many factors appear to impact the number of DVCs at a particular roadway location. These factors are generally related to the characteristics of the roadway and traffic flow, the deer population and the adjacent land use and cover.

At Arnold, always assume you are driving through deer habitat, but based on analysis of the locations of DVCs since 2002, there do appear to be areas where they are more concentrated and pose higher risk.

The following tips for avoiding DVCs were compiled from a number of sources such as IIHS, Tennessee Department of Safety, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Highway Loss Data Institute, DVCIC and Michigan Deer Crash Coalition, all of which offer similar advice:
• Use extreme caution during the months of October through January – this holds true on the base.
• If you see one deer, you should expect others.
• Be attentive from sunset to midnight and hours shortly before and after sunrise. These are the highest risk periods for DVCs.
• When driving at night, reduce your speed and also use high beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic. The high-beams will better illuminate the eyes of deer on or near the roadway.
• Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path, but stay in your lane. Many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or lose control of their cars.
• Do not rely on devices such as deer whistles to deter deer. These devices have not been proven to reduce DVCs.
• Avoid the use of cell phones and other distractions while driving.
• Make sure you buckle up.
• Scan both the roadway and roadsides.

Be especially careful in the rain – deer can be harder to see and they slip easily on the pavement.

If a DVC is unavoidable, the same sources offer this advice:
• Don’t swerve, brake firmly, stay in your lane, hold onto the steering wheel, and bring your vehicle to a controlled stop.
• Pull off the roadway. Turn on the vehicle hazard flashers, and be careful of other traffic when you leave your car.
• Don’t attempt to remove a deer from the roadway unless you’re convinced it’s dead. A deer can inflict serious injuries.
• Contact law enforcement to report the incident. At Arnold, be sure to report it to Arnold Protective Services so that we can continue to track and evaluate the problem.
• Contact your insurance agent or company representative to report any damage to your car. Collision with a deer is usually covered under the comprehensive portion of your automobile policy.

Tennessee law allows deer killed in a collision to be taken and used as food as long as you contact the nearest TWRA regional office to report the accident within 48 hours.