(WGHP) — Ray’s body shop in Winston-Salem has already seen hundreds of vehicles damaged by deer and expects to see many more, especially with ongoing construction pushing wildlife closer to busy roads.
One man says he didn’t see a deer coming before it was too late.
“It sounded like I hit a wall,” said Isaiah Stephens, of Winston-Salem.
Stephens was driving to work overnight when he hit something in the dark.
“I felt like it might have been a giant tire at first, and then I got out of the car and saw pieces of fur stuck in the grill,” he said.
He’d hit a deer that heavily damaged his Chevy sedan.
“The grill of the car is shoved in. The radiator is broken,” Stephens said.
He took the Chevy to Ray’s Body Shop where co-owner Jerry Mathis says he has seen dozens of smashed cars this year just like Stephens’.
“Just in the past few weeks, we’ve probably had close to 50,” Mathis said.
Mathis says he’s seeing more deer crashes than he used to at Ray’s.
“It used to be you knew there was a three-month period, September through December. … Because of the movement of deer, it’s 12 months a year,” Mathis said.
He says with so much construction and deforesting, deer are more likely to get hit by cars.
“There’s no place for them to really go with so much construction, building homes, businesses. So much moving around, they are never really stationary. They are on the highways,” Mathis said.
A photo taken earlier this week shows six deer crossing a neighborhood road in High Point.
“They’re running into the roads, and they’re running into the cars,” Mathis said.
For people like Stephens, it means thousands in damages.
“When you hit one, even if it’s a small one, it’s not unusual to have $6,000 to $7,000 in damage,” Mathis said.
Even if there is minimal visible damage, Mathis says lots of internal parts could be affected.
“Get it checked out. Most body shops will be glad to look one over and make sure that it’s safe to continue to drive,” Mathis said.
The best advice to avoid hitting a deer is to use your high beams at night when you can and be extra vigilant for movement in the trees and bushes near roads where deer can jump out of quickly.