How you can help prevent car vs. deer crashes

By Sara Celi – bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - It can happen in a split second, and the results can be pretty scary.

If you hit a deer with your car, it's something you won't soon forget.

"It took me about a week to feel comfortable driving again," said Noel Stephan, who recently hit a deer with her car. "And I'm still a little shaky."

Stephan hit the deer in the early morning hours on a country road in Clermont County.

"I was coming around a bend and it jumped out in front of me and it hit my right panel and flew up in the air over my car," she recalls. "It hit right where the headlight is, and it shattered the headlight and broke the hood. And because it was jumping, it still went up in the air and I actually had to swerve to miss it."

Noel says she was given a $4,500 estimate to have her car fixed.

"I'm going to need my radiator replaced, my air conditioner replaced, my headlight replaced, all my grill, the crib on my grill, my emblem, and my whole hood needs replaced," she said.

That's the kind of damage the mechanics at Carmax say they see all the time from deer accidents.

And State Farm Insurance says the average cost for a deer accident is just over $3,000.

"Usually headlights, bumpers hoods, mostly front end damage," said mechanic Rodney McIntosh.

McIntosh has been working in car repair for about 20 years. He says his shop will repair vehicles involved in at least 50 deer accidents this year. According to State Farm Insurance, deer are factors in 1.5 million crashes a year across the nation.

"Just a split second and then it's over with. You see them coming, and well, that's the end of it," McIntosh said. "Sometimes we can repair or glue headlights back together and save it if all the pieces are there. We can try to repair some of that stuff instead of replacing it. Usually keeps the cost down a little bit."

The down time for a car can be a few days to two weeks.

"Some of them can be minute little deer hits, and then some of them can be a major accident," said McIntosh.

So what can you do to prevent deer crashes?

A popular choice is the deer alert whistle. We ordered a few on and tried to attach them to a news van. One's adhesive came right off and another didn't stay on at all.

In addition, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Kentucky Parks and Wildlife Office all said they don't recommend the deer whistle.

Other tips to avoid deer collisions including checking your speed, and don't go too fast in the dark. Also, make sure you don't swerve. You might actually hit something else instead of the deer, and make the situation far worse.

"Definitely take it slow," said Stephan. "I mean, I was going under the speed limit when I hit it and I still did that much damage."

"At least have your deductible laid back, because you never know when you're going to have an accident," added McIntosh.

So where do Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana rank when it comes to these accidents?

According to State Farm Insurance, drivers in Ohio have 1 in 121 odds of hitting a deer, while drivers in Indiana have 1 in 159 odds and drivers in Kentucky have 1 in 161 odds. Deer crashes or most prevalent in West Virginia.

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