ENVIRONMENT

‘Tis the season for an increase in deer crashes, says AAA

BY Leah Mishkin, Correspondent |

Berkeley Heights resident Lisa Romanko got rid of apple trees because they attracted too many deer. She lives right on the back of a reservation on the border of Somerset County, which AAA says is among the top five counties where deer crashes happen most often. Monmouth, Burlington, Hunterdon and Morris counties also made the list in 2016.

“You want a neighborhood with trees and all that kind of stuff, but it promotes more deer and then they come out and you just don’t see them,” Romanko said. “People are hitting them because they cross, you know, busy roads, so yeah, you’ll find them kind of littered throughout the area where people drive. My husband actually had one run right into the side of his car a long time ago.”

New numbers from AAA show there were over 4,000 crashes in the state involving deer just in a three-month span. AAA says deer crashes typically happen between 5 and 7 o’clock at night.

“That is when the deer are typically out looking for food, so that’s when our visibility is poor, the deer are out and about, and we tend to see an increase in crashes,” said AAA spokesperson Tracy Noble.

Noble says the months of October through December are the time of year where they’re seeing an increase in deer-related crashes.

“This is deer mating season so deer are looking for a potential partner, they are not paying attention to traffic safety and they’ve got other things on the mind,” she said.

So AAA says you should scan the shoulder of the road, slow down — especially in wooded areas. If there are no other cars around use your high beams, follow the speed limit and remember deer don’t travel alone.

If a crash is unavoidable?

“We do recommend that you do not jam on your brakes because what then happens is the car, the front of the car will dip down, so you don’t want to do that,” Noble said. “You also want to stay in the lane because you never know what’s coming in the other lane, so sometimes it could be better to actually strike the animal then to be in a head on collision with another vehicle.”

If you hit a deer AAA says don’t go near the injured animal, but call police, because they can be unpredictable.