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:
TO AVOID HITTING A DEER:
- 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.
IF YOU HIT A DEER:
- 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, augustamuseum.org
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, email@example.com
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