BRISTOL, Tenn. - As the mercury drops, there's a hidden danger that can damage your car -- crashes caused by deer. News 5 checked with police to see how you can avoid deer collisions this fall.
Out on Interstate 81 cars are buzzing by quickly, and some might say open hunting season has finally begun. "I've been hit by a few deer," said driver Clayton Atwood.
That means a lot of drivers are accidental hunters. "[The deer] jump off steep banks and run into you, hit the side of your vehicle," added Atwood.
Collision Centers are already busy this fall realigning and fixing cars that have hit deer, which can be costly. "Typically $2,000 to $8,000, depending on how fast the car was going and how big the deer is," said Kevin Barb with Bill Gatton Collision Repair Center.
News 5 checked with Sergeant Paul Mooneyham with Tennessee Highway Patrol and learned the most dangerous times for your car are just before sunrise and just before sunset.
If you do hit a deer, it's important to call police right away. "[If there is] apparent damage of over $50, you're required to notify the local police or the State Highway Patrol immediately and notify them of this crash," said Sergeant Mooneyham. If you don't report the crash, you're violating Tennessee State Law.
But the best advice is to slow down and stay in your lane. If it's necessary, you may have to just hit the deer. "If you swerve into the oncoming traffic and you strike a vehicle head on, that collision is probably going to cost somebody their life," added Sergeant Mooneyham.
Warning signs are up but drivers need to be prepared. "The deer herds are going to start moving to look for food, so you're going to see a significant increase as it gets colder out," said Sergeant Mooneyham.
News 5 did some more digging and learned similar to Tennessee, in Virginia if you do hit a deer you should immediately report the accident to police. Once it's been reported, the driver can even take the carcass home.