Car-deer collisions about to reach annual peak

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WOOD COUNTY, Ohio (WTVG) - It's deer mating season in northwest Ohio, and chances are you've seen them getting too close for comfort to the road while you've been driving.

"Usually just as the sun's rising and setting, those are the worst times," says Wood County Chief Deputy Sheriff Eric Reynolds. "The deer are either going back into the woods or coming out to feed and/or get water."

November sees the most deer-vehicle collisions, with 23% of the annual total. Over 18,000 of them were reported statewide last year, most from October to December. Hancock County had the most cases of "cervine intervention" in our area (425 incidents), and the 4th most in Ohio.

Wood County officials say they're already up to 150 reports on the year, and caution drivers not to panic when suddenly facing a deer on the road.

"Those are the times where there are injuries," offers Reynolds. "People swerve off the road and go into ditches or hit utility poles. It's best just to strike the deer, versus taking evasive action."

Insurance agents like Tom Hudak also warn that it's not just a personal liability in those cases.

"That's not their fault that you swerved, so that's all going to be on you if you swerve and hit another car," cautions Hudak. "It's not only safer for yourself, but also the other driver, to just stay in your lane and try to avoid it by slowing down as much as possible."

Agents say says tending to injuries should take top priority before calling insurance, of course, though try to ensure you're not blocking any lanes in the aftermath.

While bucks and does can appear "out of nowhere", alertness is key to minimizing damage. Officials recommend you drive according to road conditions, use your high beams (assuming no opposing traffic), and most of all: don't drive distracted.