Remain in car, call police if you experience a run-in with a deer

Christina Tesar

After hitting a deer, Tommy Callahan, Chris Farley’s character in the 1995 comedic movie Tommy Boy, picks up the deer, puts it in the back seat of his car and continues on his road trip. The animal, not fully dead, awakes, thrashing its body around inside the car.

If you hit a deer, would you know not repeat this?

“We do not recommend an individual remove the deer from the roadway,” said Mike McColeman, assistant maintenance administrator for the Ohio Department of Transportation. “Any injured and scared animal may appear to be dead and cause serious injury to a human attempting to drag it or pick it up.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 1.5 million deer-vehicle collisions happen each year resulting in nearly $1.1 billion in property damage.

“Hitting a deer is not a situation anyone wants to be in,” said John Peach, Kent State’s chief of police and director of public safety. “These accidents can be serious ones – the animals have been known to get stuck in windshields, break through windshields, total vehicles and even kill people.”

Rich Sullivan, of Solon , struck a deer while driving home one night from work.

“I never even saw the deer,” he said. “I usually see a couple of deer while driving home, but on this night, I hadn’t seen any.”

The deer, which struck the passenger side of his car, died instantly. The damage to Sullivan’s car was more than $2,500.

If a collision occurs, McColeman said to come to a stop out of the driving lane.

“Do not drive away if there is any doubt concerning the road-worthiness of the vehicle,” he said.

Drivers who hit a deer should always call the police to file a claim, Peach said, and then remain in their car until police arrive.

If the deer is still alive, Peach said, police need to be the ones to kill the animal.

In a claim study, State Farm Insurance Agency put Ohio as the fourth-most state to contain deer-vehicle collisions, exceeded by Pennsylvania, Michigan and Illinois. McColeman said most of Ohio’s deer activity is in wooded areas where the roadway separates natural habitat.

Drivers in Ohio must be most cautious around deer during mating seasons, Peach said. Because so many accidents occur around this time, he said an officer may not be able to come to the scene, but drivers should still report the incident.

“The good thing about the mess is that you, the driver, can keep the deer,” Peach said.

Ohio law states if the accident is reported to an officer and reported to the game protector of the county within 24 hours of the collision, the driver is in possession of the animal. It is illegal to take the carcass without reporting the incident.

Though most collisions are out of drivers’ control, some tips may be helpful, Peach said. Drivers should be aware of their surroundings, especially at night, and slow down where deer caution signs are posted.

“The faster they are going when they hit a stationary object, like a deer, the more damage it will cause to the vehicle and the person driving the vehicle,” Peach said.

Contact news correspondent Christina Tesar at [email protected].