YORK COUNTY, Pa. — According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), there were more than 5,700 deer-related crashes in 2021, up from almost 5,600 in 2020.
2021 crashes resulted in 1,255 injuries and 13 fatalities. State Farm reports Pennsylvanians have a one-in-57 chance of being involved in an animal-related crash, the sixth highest in the nation.
As the season continues, officials release more tips to avoid a collision.
“You know it’s really hard for us to do anything, we can’t get into the mind of a deer so it’s not like we can anticipate what they’re doing,” said Fritzi Schreffler, a spokesperson for PennDOT. "What we can do is take a look at areas where there has been a high level of incidents and we can put up signs warning you that deer will cross over the next certain miles."
Schreffler says a report from PennDOT that has compiled a list of deer-related crashes from the last five years shows a number of drivers are encountering deer.
The list also includes drivers who may have hit another object instead of the deer within Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry and York counties.
“You would think that maybe people would think of the more rural counties like Franklin County or Perry County as having high numbers of hits, but they have a low volume of traffic in that area, so actually the highest number that we see come from York and Lancaster Counties,” said Schreffler.
Some tips officials recommend to avoid hitting deer are:
Stay alert and pay attention to road signs while driving. Areas with high levels of deer activity will often have yellow, diamond-shaped signs with an image of a deer.
Use high beams when there is no oncoming traffic. Generally, the light reflecting off their eyes will reveal their location, and flicking your high beams will often cause the animal to scurry away.
Deer rarely travel alone; if one is seen, there are likely more, so slow down and watch for other deer to appear.
Swerving away from animals can confuse them so they don’t know which way to run and can also put your car in the path of oncoming vehicles, so resist the urge to swerve. Instead, stay in your lane with both hands firmly on the wheel.
If the crash is imminent, drivers should remove their foot from the brake. During hard braking, the front end of a vehicle is pulled downward, which can cause the animal to travel up over the hood toward the windshield. Letting off the brake can protect drivers from windshield strikes because the animal is more likely to be pushed to one side of the vehicle or over the top of the vehicle.
Always wear a seat belt. The chances of being injured when hitting an animal are much higher if the driver is not wearing a seatbelt.
More information on deer-related crashes in Pennsylvania can be found here.