Along with icy conditions, students driving home may want to watch out for deer after sunset and before sunrise.
Since the start of November, there have been 31 accidents involving deer within Tippecanoe County, according to logs provided by the Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s Office.
A local State Farm agent said the average cost per accident starts in the thousands.
“On average, you’re probably not going to get anything less than $3,500,” said State Farm Agent Trent Johnson. “Cars are smarter, there’s more sensors in the front end with technology. ... If airbags deploy, that’s going to drive that cost up even further.”
More than 14,000 deer-vehicle collisions are reported in Indiana each year, with about 20% taking place in November, according to a document provided on the Indiana Department of Natural Resources website. Overall, 58% of all animal-collision claims in the United States involve deer, according to data provided by State Farm.
Breeding season, or the rut, for deer happens in November, said Patrick McGovern, the integrated deer project coordinator at Purdue’s department of forestry and natural resources.
“Usually it’s early to mid-November is when the peak of the rut hits,” McGovern said.
This time of year is when there’s increased movements with bucks, McGovern explained, because the bucks are trying to round up does.
“It’s a little aggressive sometimes, because you have does that are not necessarily solo,” McGovern said. “So bucks are running around trying to round up does, chasing off other bucks and fighting.”
The start of deer hunting season may also be a reason more collisions occur, McGovern said, as deer will be disturbed by the increased number of people in the woods.
“Deer can perceive pressure like that sometimes,” he said. “So you get increased activity from heavily hunted areas, like some of the state lands.”
According to the Department of Natural Resources, drivers should especially watch out for deer in heavily wooded areas during dusk and dawn.
In the event students have a deer staring down at their headlights, Johnson said to stay the course.
“If you swerve, the chance of you hitting an oncoming car would be greater,” Johnson said. “Or, if you swerve and missed the deer and go into the ditch because you lose control and hit a tree or a stationary object, that’s going to be much worse than hitting the deer.”
If drivers do hit a deer, Johnson recommends getting off the road safely and then immediately calling police.
“If it’s dead, you don’t want somebody else coming along and hitting it,” Johnson said. “Turn your hazards on your car. Don’t approach the animal because it could still be alive. ... It could kick you or get up and hurt you. ... Then call your insurance office as soon as possible so we can get a claim started.”