Autumn is peak season for deer crashes
Deer crashes in Massachusetts are at an all-time high says the AAA Northeast – the highest number on record since 2002.
“Hitting a deer can have traumatic and devastating consequences and drivers need to be especially vigilant at this time of year,” said Mary Maguire, AAA Northeast Vice President of Public and Government Affairs. “The best defense against deer crashes is to be prepared and alert. Last year, I struck a deer on a curvy road on a dark night close to my home. Fortunately, I was driving fairly slowly, but I still managed to cause $6,000 in damage to my car. If it can happen to me, it can happen to you—when you least expect it.”
Last year deer crashes topped 1,656, the highest number in two decades based on an analysis of crash data from the Commonwealth’s IMPACT crash portal. According to the AAA, if one extrapolates that data, this means that there was approximately one deer crash every 80 minutes.
As for the most dangerous time of the day for a deer crash, the data suggests the most crashes occur near sunset, usually between 6 and 8 p.m. pre-daylight savings time, and from 5 to 7 p.m. after the clocks move back.
Massachusetts towns with the most deer crashes
The top Massachusetts towns for deer crashes from October through December in 2021 were as follows:
- Middleborough: 33
- Westport: 32
- Taunton: 31
- Swansea: 22
- Bolton/Freetown/Plymouth (tie): 19
- Westford: 17
- Rehoboth: 16
- Easton/Norton/Weston (tie): 15
The top Massachusetts counties for deer crashes from October through December in 2021:
- Bristol: 282
- Middlesex: 277
- Worcester: 261
- Plymouth: 230
- Essex: 139
Tips to share with insureds on how to avoid deer crashes
The AAA offered the following tips to help drivers avoiding or mitigating a deer crash:
- Scan the shoulders of the road in front of you; deer may dash out from the shoulder or wooded areas adjacent to the road.
- Follow the speed limit; keeping your speed down will give you more time to respond to unexpected wildlife movements.
- Be careful rounding curves and climbing hills where visibility is limited.
- One long blast on your horn may frighten animals away from your car if you spy them early enough.
- If you spy one deer, look out for others. Deer rarely travel alone.
- Use your high beams along dark roadways if there is no oncoming traffic.
- If a collision is unavoidable, apply the brakes firmly and try to remain in your lane and avoid other vehicles; swerving sharply can cause an even more serious crash.
Drivers are especially vulnerable to collisions with deer after the end of daylight-saving time as they adjust to the darker commute home. Changing sleep cycles after the time change can also lead to drowsy driving. According to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research, losing one to two hours of sleep doubles your crash risk, and an individual operating a vehicle with five hours of sleep or less in a 24-hour period faces the same crash risk as someone driving drunk.