Watch out for deer.
From October to December, the number of traffic accidents caused by deer in North Carolina skyrockets.
Last year in Lincoln County, there were 114 recorded animal car collisions, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
Every year it seems to be going up, said Kate Pipkin, public information biologist for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.
NCDOT records animal car collisions, but does not categorize them by the type of animal.
â€œUnless the damage is significant, it does not get recorded,â€ Pipkin said. â€œMost of the big accidents are from big animals, so we unofficially estimate it as a deer.â€
She estimates that 90 percent of the collisions across the state involve deer.
â€œIt is safe to say that a little over 100 cars in Lincoln County reported a deer accident last year,â€ Pipkin said.
Historically in November, 22 percent of the collisions occur statewide. The next two highest months are October and December in which 13 percent of accidents tend to occur.
For the past eight years, Wake County has been the No. 1 county for animal car collisions.
â€œIt seems to have to do more with a combination of factors of how many people drive on the roads, how often they are driving and how much deer habitat there is,â€ Pipkin said.
Mecklenburg County ranked 14th in the state last year with the highest count of animal car collisions.
â€œWith the sheer amount of people who live there, you would think it would be number one or number two for animal car collisions,â€ she said. â€œBut Mecklenburg County is built up enough that there are not many woodsy areas.â€
Pipkin said the number of collisions rise each year based on the number of cars registered and the numbers of miles driven.
After deer, other animals at high risk for collision are domestic livestock and the occasional bear.
According to Pipkin most collisions occur on major highways.
Her assumption was the same for Lincoln County.
â€œI would imagine a good amount of the crashes would occur on 321 heading towards Hickory or Charlotte,â€ Pipkin said.
Although there are many animal car collisions, very few end in fatalities.
In the past two years, Lincoln County has had no animal-related car collision fatalities.
In the past two years, there have only been 13 deaths or crashes statewide involving an animal.
Pipkin warns drivers to go slow and scan the shoulder of the road â€” especially now that it is deer season.
â€œIf you see a deer cross the road, there might be one right behind it because they travel in groups,â€ she said.
Pipkin said that with it getting dark so early now, it is important to be more aware.
â€œOlder deer crossing the road sometimes move slowly, but sometimes they dash across the road,â€ she said.
Sgt. T.E. Ellis with the North Carolina State Highway Patrolâ€™s Lincoln office suggests decreasing speed at night, especially on rural roads.
by Amy Wadsworth