How To Avoid A Crash During Deer Season

Deer are more likely to be in the roadway this time of year, like this one spotted on Route 539 in Whiting. (Photo by Jason Allentoff)

  NEW JERSEY – During the months of October, November and until mid-December, deer mating season is in full effect and many are out during dawn and dusk.

  During this time period, police experience an increase in deer-involved motor vehicle accidents. According to the Manchester Township Police Department, they reported over 100 animal involved collisions in 2020, with about 40% occurring during the months of October and November.

  On November 3, a major accident where a tanker truck overturned and exploded happened because of a deer.

  At 3 a.m., 18-year-old Marissa Patterson was driving east on Route 37 when a deer ran out in front of her car. As a result of hitting the deer, the car spun out and became disabled in the roadway, unable to be driven.

  While Patterson stood in a safe location and called police, a truck pulling a tanker trailer filled with 8,700 gallons of gasoline drove right into her car. The trailer then overturned causing the gasoline to spill and explode, police said.

  Miraculously, there were no injuries reported in this incident. But that’s not the case for all accidents involving hitting a deer or animal.

  The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) states how deer are more likely to suddenly enter roadways at this time of year, which increases the risk for sudden stops or collisions with drivers.

  Deer activity is more likely to occur during early morning hours and around sunset. During this time of year, a driver’s visibility may be difficult and more motorists are on their work commutes.

This deer was spotted wondering in a residential neighborhood in Southern Ocean County (Photo by Jason Allentoff)

  “Deer are involved in thousands of collisions with motor vehicles in New Jersey every year, most of which occur during the fall mating season,” DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife Director Dave Golden said. “We urge all drivers to be especially alert to the possibility of deer suddenly darting onto roadways and to understand how to reduce the risk of a collision and possible serious injury to themselves or their passengers.”

  So, what can you do to avoid deer involved collisions? The DEP has stated the following tips for drivers to stay safe:

  • Slow down if you see a deer and watch for possible sudden movement. If the deer is in the road and doesn’t move, wait for the deer to cross and the road is clear. Do not try to drive around the deer.
  • Watch for “Deer Crossing” signs. Slow down when traveling through areas known to have a high concentration of deer so there is enough time to stop, if necessary.
  • Use high beams after dark if there is no oncoming traffic or vehicles ahead. High beams will be reflected by the eyes of deer on or near roads. If you see one deer, assume that others may be in the area.
  • Don’t tailgate. The driver ahead might have to stop suddenly to avoid colliding with a deer.
  • Always wear a seatbelt, as required by law. Drive at a safe and sensible speed, following the speed limit, factoring for weather, available lighting, traffic, curves and other road conditions.
  • Do not swerve to avoid impact if a collision appears inevitable. A deer may counter-maneuver suddenly. Brake appropriately and stay in your lane. Collisions are more likely to become fatal when a driver swerves to avoid a deer and instead collides with oncoming traffic or a fixed structure along the road.
  • Report any deer-vehicle collision to a local law enforcement agency immediately.
  • Obey the state’s hands-free device law or refrain from using cellular devices while driving.

  What if a collision with a deer is unavoidable? Manchester police tells drivers that they should not swerve. You should brake firmly, hold on to the steering wheel with both hands, come to a controlled stop and move the vehicle out of traffic to a safe location.

  For more information about white-tailed deer in New Jersey, visit