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Deer-auto collisions reach a peak in fall – The Union

Areas around Putnam, Green, Hancock, Jones and Baldwin counties are heavily wooded, and those woods have an abundance of deer. That increases your chances of having a deer encounter with your vehicle. 

There is not a more frightening encounter for most folks than an encounter between their automobile and a deer. That potentially dangerous encounter is greatest during the fall season and especially during the rutting period. Over the last two weeks, I have seen a number of dead deer along area highways.

A collision can lead to serious automobile damage and life-threatening injuries. Annually there are approximately 1.5 million deer-auto collisions in the United States that result in $1 billion in vehicle damage, 10,000 personal injuries, and 150 deaths. Georgia currently ranks 19th nationally in deer-auto collisions. 

It is a documented fact that deer are more active at night and in the early and late hours of the day during the fall season and that activity often takes them to roadside areas where encounters with autos are probable. Those nighttime and early morning and late day hours of darkness are when a majority of auto-deer collisions occur. 

Defensive driving can help avoid some deer-auto accidents, but there is little a driver can do to avoid a deer that decides to dash across a road in front of your automobile. Any driver attempting to avoid a deer by swerving or hard braking can sometimes make a potential accident more serious. It is far better to brake and hold the steering wheel straight and steady even if it means hitting the deer.

I had one serious encounter with a deer on the highway. That encounter or collision was somewhat frightening. I had always wondered what it would be like to hit a deer while traveling at a high rate of speed and I found out early one morning. 

I had only recently purchased a new bass boat and I had a fairly new SUV. I was on my way to a fishing tournament. Fortunately, my boat trailer had electric brakes that engaged anytime the automobile brakes were engaged. At 3 a.m. a large buck darted out of the woods and directly into the path of my vehicle.

Those trailer brakes allowed me to safely engage the automobile brakes and slow the speed of the impending crash. Even then it was like hitting a brick wall when my SUV and the huge buck collided. It almost totaled my automobile including wiping out the entire front-end, the radiator and even the transmission. 

Fortunately, the trailer brakes kept the boat and trailer squarely behind my vehicle, and I suffered no injuries. The only damage to my bass boat was deer hair. Thousands of deer hairs were embedded in the boat carpet and it took me several attempts over several weeks to remove all the deer hair.

I also had good comprehensive insurance and that covered getting my SUV repaired. Unfortunately, some drivers find out too late that their insurance policy does not cover deer-auto collisions. You might want to check and make sure you have that type of coverage on your insurance policy that will cover you and your auto if you have a collision with a deer.

The deer population in Georgia has been reduced from a high of 1.4 million deer to the present population of around 1 million, and consequently deer-auto collisions have been decreasing. The decrease in deer populations is primarily due to changes in deer regulations that have allowed an increase in the number of deer harvested by hunters.

Deer movements increase due to a variety of reasons. One major reason that deer move more frequently during the fall is the breeding season (rut). As the deer search out mates for breeding, it greatly increases their movement, and that often brings the deer onto and across highways where collisions with automobiles are very likely.

As rural areas become more populated by humans, deer move more and when their natural food sources disappear due to increased human populations; the deer are more likely to travel into neighborhoods looking for food. Even a slow speed neighborhood collision with a deer can cause significant damage to your automobile. 

Other than being aware that encounters with deer are more likely during the fall season, many deer collisions are unavoidable. Stay alert, slow down your speed, and be ready to safely apply your brakes and control your car if you do encounter a deer on the roadway. 

See you next week. 

Outdoor columnist Bobby Peoples can be reached via email at brpeoples995@gmail.com. 

Article source: http://www.unionrecorder.com/sports/deer-auto-collisions-reach-a-peak-in-fall/article_e10425c2-c69b-11e7-ae53-8bdf31924554.html

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