Deer mating season means drivers beware

Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 6:51 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013 5:28 AM
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Fall is mating season for deer in Georgia, which means the state’s 1.2 million whitetails will be more active and more likely to be involved in a car crash during the next six weeks, particularly on Georgia Highway 56 in metro Augusta.

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Bryan Thompson wipes down a car before it's painted after body work because of a collision with a deer.  TODD BENNETT/STAFF
TODD BENNETT/STAFF
Bryan Thompson wipes down a car before it's painted after body work because of a collision with a deer.

Since 2011, deer have caused more than 1,700 collisions – and as a result, 62 injuries – in Richmond, Columbia, Burke and Aiken counties, according to data provided by the Georgia Department of Transportation and South Carolina Highway Patrol.

The Augusta Chronicle analyzed the wreck reports and found Highway 56 is the area’s most dangerous for deer-car crashes, accounting for 102 collisions in the past three years for motorists traveling between Richmond and Burke counties.

No fatalities have resulted from the deer-car wrecks.

“Deer are on the move during this time of year, and while motorists in rural areas may expect to see more of them, Georgia’s suburban and urban areas can be prime spots as well,” said Don McGowan, a senior biologist with the state Department of Natural Resource’s Wildlife Resources Division.

With an estimated 50,000 deer-car collisions annually in Georgia, McGowan said hunting is often mistakenly blamed for increased deer-car collisions.

“There actually are natural explanations for increased deer activity,” he said.

With the recent time change, McGowan said, roads are particularly dangerous in the autumn and winter, as shorter days and longer nights make it harder to see the male deer that between now and early December “go into rut and begin actively searching for mates.”

“Rush hour for most commuters tends to fall during the same hours in which white-tailed deer are most active – dawn and dusk,” he said.

As of Monday, Tracy Bryant, the operations manager at Kendrick Paint and Body, said his shop’s eight Augusta locations have each repaired more than five vehicles that were damaged from deer wrecks in the last two weeks.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates car-deer crashes cause at least $1 billion in damage each year, at an average of $2,000 per vehicle.

“We have been overwhelmed,” Bryant said. “In one vehicle, the deer went straight through the front windshield.”

Deer-car crashes peaked at 560 wrecks in Richmond, Columbia and Burke counties during mating season, but the Chronicle’s analysis showed drivers should remain cautious into January. The month has ranked third in deer-car crashes since 2011, at 153 wrecks.

DEER-CAR COLLISIONS

2011 2012 2013 Total

Richmond 138 127 80 345

Columbia 240 210 162 612

Burke 340 210 97 647

Aiken N/A 70 31 101

Total 718 617 370 1705

Top roads for deer wrecks

Road County Collisions

State Highway 56 Richmond/Burke 102

State Highway 24 Columbia 71

State Highway 232 Columbia 54

State Highway 104 Richmond/Columbia 47

U.S. Highway 25 Burke 41

State Highway 47 Columbia 40

State Highway 23 Burke 39

State Highway 28 Richmond/Columbia 33

Thompson Bridge Road Burke 31

William Few Parkway Columbia 30

Hereford Farm Road Columbia 29

Peach Orchard Road Richmond 26

State Highway 223 Columbia 26

Sources: Georgia Department of Transportation and South Carolina Highway Patrol

STAY ALERT

To help avoid collisions, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources offers the following tips:

DEER ARE UNPREDICTABLE: A deer calmly standing on the side of a road might bolt into or across the road rather than away from it when startled by a vehicle.

ONE DEER USUALLY MEANS MORE: Take caution and slow down when a deer crosses. Deer generally travel in groups, so if one crosses, be prepared that others might follow.

RISE AND SHINE: Wreck data show more than 60 percent of all deer-car collisions in the Augusta area happen between 5 and 8 a.m. and 6 and 11 p.m. – the same times most people are commuting to and from work.

ROADSIDE THREAT: Highway shoulders generally provide beneficial food both during extremely dry times of the year and after a long, hard winter. Deer are generally attracted to these plants in late winter, early spring and late summer.

MINIMIZE DAMAGE: If it is too late to avoid a collision, drivers are advised to slow down as much as possible – resist the urge to swerve to avoid the deer; this might cause further damage, send drivers off the road or cause a collision with another vehicle. If an accident occurs, alert the police as soon as possible.

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seenitB4
97254
Points
seenitB4 11/05/13 - 05:39 am
3
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They are crazy during this time

Stay out of their way....they will total your car.

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