Sunday, October 31, 1999

Mating urge sends deer across roads

Ind. wrecks lead Tristate

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It's peak season for drivers to collide with deer, and the most likely spot for a crash on Tristate roads is in Ohio County, Ind., an Enquirer analysis shows.

        There were 1.3 deer-vehicle crashes per million vehicle miles traveled in the county in 1998, according to an analysis of state police and natural resource records in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

        The second-most likely spot: Dearborn County, where there were .42 crashes per million vehicle miles. Clermont County is a close third with .39 crashes per million miles.

  • Drive slower during lower-light situations, especially at dawn and dusk, or morning and evening rush hour. About 20 percent of accidents occur in the early morning hours and 58 percent happen between 5 p.m. and midnight.
  • If a deer crosses the road, look for a second or third to follow. Deer often travel in groups.
  • Scan the sides of the road for deer. Often their eyes reflect in headlights. Be especially cautious where yellow deer crossing signs are posted.
  • If it looks like you are going to hit a deer, hit it. Swerving can be worse.
  • Deer fixate on headlights. Flashing them may prevent a collision.
  Sources: Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife, Ohio Department of Public Safety, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife and the Ohio Insurance Institute.
        October, November and December are the worst months for deer-vehicle collisions, wildlife officials say. It's deer mating season, and they're on the move — especially during the hours around dawn and dusk. The Ohio County sheriff's department has been taking deer-vehicle crash reports about every other day this month and last.

        “You have plenty of woods and plenty of deer, and the hunter access seems to be less than what we like,” said Mark Weaver, wildlife research biologist with the Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife. “Combine that with traffic, and you have the worst of all cases.”

        Doug Smart, who owns Doug Smart Auto Body & Frame in Rising Sun and has been in the business for 25 years, knows the damage deer can do.

        “I've seen where they've jumped and landed on the hood and gone through the windshield,” said Mr. Smart, whose own car was damaged this month when he hit a deer. “We do deer claims all year round, but this time of year is especially busy.”

        More than 2,200 deer were hit on Tristate roads last year, and most of the accidents happened in suburban counties seeing tremendous growth.

        Wildlife experts say that's not surprising. More roads are being built in areas inhabited by deer.

        “With more roads and more drivers, there's going to be more deer strikes,” said Rick Jasper, assistant wildlife management supervisor for the Ohio Division of Wildlife district that oversees 17 counties in Southwest Ohio. “In areas that are highly urbanized, hunter access is a real problem.”

        One day last week the Ohio State Highway Patrol's Batavia post handled nine deer-vehicle crashes, said Lt. Paul Hermes, the post commander.

        Among the unlucky drivers: Terry Quin of Loveland. She was headed east on Ohio 32 around 6:15 a.m. and was just past Eastgate Mall when a buck appeared out of nowhere. It took off the passenger mirror and made a minor scratch on the door.

        “I had no reaction time,” she said. “This wasn't Bambi. This was Bambi's father. ... I veered into the left lane, and then I heard him hit.”

        In Northern Kentucky, police say accidents are more likely to occur on the main arteries such as Ky. 17 and Madison Pike.

        “Vehicles are more likely traveling at higher speeds,” said Sgt. Tony Kramer, with Kenton County police. “In residential areas, people are going slower and are more likely to stop.”


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