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With the coldest winter months still approaching, deer could be forced to wander farther in search of food, in some cases leading them onto highways.

It's a problem seen often throughout the United States, with animal-related vehicle accidents occurring 500,000 times a year, according to the National Safety Council.

Locally, 387 struck deer were removed from Columbia County roads in 2006, according to the county's Web site.

In Richmond County, 2005's accidents involving a deer totaled 140, said Augusta Traffic Engineering Technician Dennis Ellis. Through July 15, Mr. Ellis said, he has counted 68 accidents caused by hitting a deer, but he had not yet determined the number of deer collisions for all of 2006.

Aiken County officials could not offer their numbers.

With such a danger on the roads, these tips might help:


- Because most of these accidents occur between 5 p.m. and midnight, drive cautiously at that time.

- Be aware when entering deer crossing zones, which designate areas with large deer populations.

- Know that where one deer is, others might be close by. Deer seldom run alone.

- Use high beams at night when there is no oncoming traffic. High beams reflect better off the eyes of a deer standing in the road.

- Slow down and blow the horn with one long blast to scare deer away.

- Brake firmly when noticing a deer in or near the road, but stay in the proper lane. Many accidents occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer.

- Don't rely on such devices as deer whistles, deer fences and reflectors to deter deer. These devices haven't been proven to reduce accidents, according to Columbia County's government Web site.


- Do not touch the deer. It could be frightened or injured and hurt you and further injure itself.

- If possible, get the vehicle off the road.

- Call 911 or an area law enforcement agency.

- Contact your insurance agent to report vehicle damage. Hitting an animal is covered under the comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy.



AN UNBROKEN CIRCLE: SELECTIONS FROM THE COLLECTION OF JULIA J. NORRELL: Through Feb. 18; Morris Museum of Art, 1 10th St.; museum open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday: $2-$3; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday: free; (706) 724-7501

FROM TY TO CAL: A CENTURY OF BASEBALL IN AUGUSTA: Through June; Augusta Museum of History, 560 Reynolds St.; exhibit includes souvenirs, photographs and game-used equipment that tell Augusta's baseball history; museum open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday; $2-$4; children 5 and younger free; (706) 722-8454,

PHOTOGRAPHY SHOW: Through Jan. 31; Aiken County Historical Museum, 433 Newberry St.; bring in your favorite framed 8-by-10-inch horse photo for My Favorite Horse Photography Show; free; museum hours 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; (803) 642-2015

VOLLEYBALL CLINICS: 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday through March 25; Boardman Gymnasium, Augusta Preparatory Day School, 285 Flowing Wells Road, Martinez; for girls in fifth through 11th grades; $160; held by the CSRA Heat Volleyball Club; registration required; (706) 860-8539,

CSRA MUSICIANS AND DIRECTORS GUILD MEETING: 6 p.m., Good Shepherd Baptist Church, 1714 Olive Road; Eli Wilson will share educational information and experiences that will benefit the local church music ministry; (706) 840-1631