Police officers from the Milledgeville police department, a county less than two hours southeast of Atlanta, are warning drivers of an increase in deer related collisions in recent weeks. This is caused by an increasing deer population as well as displacement of their habitat due to urban sprawl. When you are traveling on a highway or other major road at 50-60 mph or more, there is a good chance you will not be able to see a deer in the road until it is too late. Officers are warning drivers to slow down and take extra caution during night driving.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, deer collisions in the United States cause about 200 fatalities a year, with the average damage to a vehicle costing over $3,100. A study from the University of Georgia found that more than 45,000 deer and vehicle collisions occurred between 2005 and 2012. In addition, a yearly study done by State Farm Insurance found that there is about a 1 in 150 chance that a driver in Georgia will be involved with a collision with a deer. October through December is deer migrating season and has the highest rate for deer collisions out of the year.
Deer can appear without any warning. Knowing how to react properly as well as knowing where and when they are most likely to appear can greatly reduce your risk of being involved in an accident. If you are driving through an area where you may be at an increased risk of a deer collision, there are things you can do to minimize your risk of hitting a deer:
Be aware of posted deer crossing signs. They are generally placed in active deer crossing areas.
Deer are most active between 6 and 9 pm
Use high beam headlights as much as possible to illuminate areas from which deer may enter the roadway.
Deer tend to travel in herds. So if you see one, the chances are high that there may be others near by.
If a deer collision seems inevitable, trying to swerve out of the way can cause you to lose control of your vehicle and crash into a tree, rolling your vehicle over, or moving into the path of another oncoming vehicle. The leading cause of accidents, injuries, and deaths from deer-related accidents is when a vehicle swerves in an attempt to avoid hitting the deer. Although it is likely against a driver's instincts, the safest thing a driver can do is to slow down as much as possible and let your vehicle strike the deer. All of these things can help you avoid collisions on the road, and can keep you and your passengers safe on the road.
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