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Do deer whistles really prevent crashes?

Posted at 8:39 AM, Nov 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-22 09:39:16-05

This is a busy season for body shops as deer are on the move.

It's deer mating season and deer gun season starts tomorrow.

Oklahoma game wardens say they're seeing three or four crashes involving deer every day.

But could an inexpensive device keep you out of the body shop?

It's a deer whistle and a lot of people swear by them.

Do they work?

Broken headlights and busted bumpers, these are just a few examples of the aftermath when cars collide with deer.

Auto repair owner, Alan Heriford says "For whatever reason, this one. It's a deer magnet."

Alan Heriford is talking about his wife's van.

"We're dealing with our second time around of repairing the front end on this one because of an impact with a deer," Heriford says.

Hearing how much the damage cost is enough to make you freeze up like a deer in headlights.

Heriford says, "I would guess somewhere between 6 to 7 thousand dollars worth of damage to it. And the deer walked away."

But what if there was a way for the deer to stay off the road in the first place?

A simple, inexpensive device that promises to reduce accidents.

"Some people swear by them, and other people swear that they're just a waste of money," Heriford says.

Time to bring in the academics.

Our sister station in Cincinnati interviewed an animal audiologist who worked on this 2003 study.

Researchers tested six different whistles- finding deer can hear them, but likely too late.

Dr Peter Scheifele from the University of Cincinnati says, "The amount of road the car is covering per second, by the time the signal actually would have reached the deer, the car would have been close enough probably to strike the deer."

A 2007 study from the university of georgia found deer whistles are likely not effective in altering deer behavior along roadways to prevent collisions.

But with a price point under ten dollars- some drivers think having the whistles can't hurt

Heriford says, "At this point with the amount of money I've put into it, I'm thinking maybe a couple of deer whistles might be a good idea. We'll see."

If you do end up hitting a deer other than checking for damage, there's one more thing you should always do: call an Oklahoma game warden.

Oklahoma game warden, Brandon Fulton says, "He will get you a conformation number if you're wanting to keep it or he'll get you a carcass tag after its investigated to make sure it wasn't shot, you'll be allowed to take it. If you don't want it call us anyways and we can come out and look at it and we can get it donated."

And if a collision is unavoidable, do not swerve to avoid the deer.

It's safer to continue straight ahead and brake, than to end up in the oncoming lane or on the shoulder.

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