It’s deer sea­son

Driv­ers be­ware bag­ging bucks with bumpers

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - FRONT PAGE - BY VA­LERIE MY­ERS ERIE TIMES-NEWS (TNS)

For every­one with a driver’ s li­cense, it’s deer sea­son.

Deer mate in the fall, and, in pur­suit of love, of­ten run in front of cars.

There were 5,467 deer-re­lated crashes re­ported to po­lice in Penn­syl­va­nia in 2016, in­clud­ing 177 in Luzer ne County, 88 in Schuylkill County and 51 in Car­bon County, ac­cord­ing to the Penn­syl­va­nia Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion. Four peo­ple were killed in the crashes; 573 were hurt.

Many more crashes weren’t re­ported, es­pe­cially if no one was hurt and the ve­hi­cle was drive­able.

“A lot more peo­ple, prob­a­bly, just re­port it to their in­sur­ance com­pany,” said Jim Car­roll, Pen­nDOT spokesman in western Penn­syl­va­nia.

Ac­cord­ing to one of those in­sur­ance com­pa­nies, one in 63 Penn­syl­va­nia driv­ers will hit a deer this year, up 6.3 per­cent from 2016. State Far m’s 15th an­nual deer claim study ranks Penn­syl­va­nia third in the na­tion for driver risk of hit­ting a deer. Only West Vir­ginia and Mon­tana rank higher.

More bad news: Novem­ber is the month with the most deer crashes. Yet to come: De­cem­ber, which ranks third.

If you got through Oc­to­ber safely, be glad. Oc­to­ber is the run­ner-up month for deer crashes.

Ris­ing along with the risk of

hit­ting a deer is the cost to get your ve­hi­cle back on the road if it does hit a deer. The na­tional av­er­age claim cost for deer crashes be­tween July 1, 2016, and June 30 was $4,179, up from $3,995 in 201516.

“Deer cross­ing” signs are posted along roads to war n driv­ers where en­coun­ters are likely, es­pe­cially in dense woods. But cars have hit deer in down­town ar­eas and a Pen­nDOT map of deer crashes shows dots across much of Luzerne, Schuylkill and Car­bon coun­ties.

There are some ar­eas, though, where the dots over­lap -- along In­ter­state 80 and In­ter­state 81 near Ha­zle­ton, and along In­ter­state 81 through Schuylkill County and a sec­tion of In­ter­state 476 in the souther n half of Car­bon County.

Schuylkill County even re­ported a fa­tal­ity last year in a crash in Oc­to­ber along Route 645 near the Berks County line.

Pen­nDOT driv­ers are on those roads at all hours and in all weather but don’t hit as many deer as you might think, said Tom Mel lo, Penn DOT as­sis­tant Erie County main­te­nance man­ager.

“We’ve hit a few here and there through the years, but we don’t have a lot of hits,” Mel los aid .“It maybe be­cause a lot of our big trucks are go­ing slower, of­ten 35 mph, and can ad­just to deer run­ning out in front of them bet­ter than some­one do­ing 55.”

Deer hit by other driv­ers are the big­ger headache for Pen­nDOT.

“Our con­cern is more pick­ing up the deer that have been hit,” Mello said. “We’re re­spon­si­ble for pick up and dis­posal along state roads.”

Car­casses gen­er­ally are taken to game lands and other state prop­er­ties, he said.

Pen­nDOT crash data maps can be ac­cessed at bit.ly/ crash-data.

MICHAEL J. MULLEN / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The fi­nal three months of the year fea­ture the most re­por ted ve­hi­cle crashes in­volv­ing deer each year.

TIMES-SHAM­ROCK FILE

Ac­cord­ing to State Farm in­sur­ance com­pany, one in 63 Penn­syl­va­nia driv­ers will hit a deer this year.

DAViD McKE­OWN / STAff PhOTOgRAPhER

A white-tailed deer for­ages for food in a field near White­tail Lane in West Brunswick Twp. in July. Deer can be beau­ti­ful crea­tures in the wild but dangers when they ven­ture onto road­ways.

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