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It's Car Season for Deer in Indiana

Driving a motor vehicle requires avoiding hazards, both expected and unexpected. Most drivers are aware of the potential problems caused by other drivers, weather, road conditions, and increased traffic. If you're traveling in Indiana, however, there might be one you didn't expect: deer.

According to the records of the Indiana State Police, approximately 16,000 collisions between deer and motor vehicles happen every year in the Hoosier State. More than 7,000 crashes have been recorded for the first eight months of 2010. Fortunately, most of them do not involve human fatalities. A spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Transportation noted that human fatalities occur in only about one of every 500 of these crashes. Yet striking a deer can cause substantial vehicle damage. A stopped vehicle is also more susceptible to being struck from behind by another vehicle.

The good news is that the number of deer-related accidents is down for the year. Officials estimate that this is a drop of approximately 5 percent from other years when these statistics have been recorded. State police credit the increased number of roadway signs alerting motorists to the potential presence of deer for the decrease. Motorist awareness is on the rise. People in Indiana are beginning to understand that deer are more likely to stray onto the road as they become accustomed to traffic. Drivers are also learning that deer travel in herds and that if you see one deer, more are likely to be around the next curve in the highway.

The bad news is that the fall months usually bring an increase in deer collisions in Indiana. The majority of these accidents occur in October and November. Therefore, motorists need to be extra vigilant.

The next time you see a yellow sign with a black deer on it, remember: It's not there for artistic effect. Around the next corner, you might meet something you weren't expecting. Slow down and keep alert for one of nature's more beautiful creatures. In addition to glimpsing some unexpected wildlife, you might save yourself an expensive auto-repair bill as well.


Indiana Public Media