Vehicular collisions with deer declined again in both Ohio and Richland County last year, but such crashes still caused four deaths in the state and 798 injuries, along with many millions of dollars in damage, according to newly released statistics from the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
The Ohio deer crash total in 2014 was 19,705, down from 20,201 in 2013, the third year for a decline in DVAs (Deer-Vehicle Accidents). Richland County was again the second highest county for deer-vehicle collisions in Ohio at 510, down considerably from the 2010 total of 648 that was the highest in the state that year.
Still, those 510 collision resulted in 19 injuries and 491 of the 18,903 property damage claims in the state. Stark County took the dubious honor for most deer-vehicle collisions for the fourth straight year with 512 DVAs.
The statistics’ release coincides with the onset of the heaviest time of year for vehicle-deer collisions. Deer travel extensively October through December, particularly to mate, and that three-month time frame accounts for half of the vehicle-deer collisions. Last year, 4,142 of the total DVAs in Ohio occurred in November, the highest total for any month.
“If there’s a ‘Deer Crossing’ sign, pay attention,” said Reed Richmond, Health Educator at Richland Public Health and a spokesperson for the Richland County Safe Communities Coalition. “Those signs are there because they are traditionally areas with a high and active wildlife population. Use extreme caution, especially during these months and especially at dawn and at dusk.”
The Ohio Department of Transportation noted that many deer collisions are believed to go unreported, so the actual number may be significantly higher. Even collisions that involve no damage to a vehicle are supposed to be reported to local law enforcement, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, or the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Deer typically travel in groups, so the appearance of one approaching or crossing a highway often indicates others’ presence nearby.
But should a collision appear imminent, authorities urge drivers not to swerve. Colliding with a deer is generally less hazardous than veering into opposing traffic or losing control and running off the road.