Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division estimates there are 50,000 deer-car collisions each year in the state. Some wrecks are unavoidable, but these tips will lessen your chances of meeting Bambi on a dark lonely highway.
“Deer are on the move during this time of year and while motorists in rural areas may expect to see deer, Georgia’s suburban and urban areas can be prime spots as well,” said Don McGowan, a senior biologist with DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division. “Hunting is often mistakenly blamed for increased deer-car collisions, but there actually are natural explanations for increased deer activity.”
Deer are closer to the highways during autumn for two primary reasons:
- Mating Season: Deer mating season occurs between October and early December. Male deer go into rut and begin actively searching for mates. This greatly contributes to the increased movement of deer, bringing them across roadways.
- Time Changes: As we “fall back” to standard time, our days become shorter and nights become longer. Rush hour for most commuters tends to fall during the same hours that white-tailed deer are most active: around dawn and dusk.
These five tips will to help drivers avoid collisions:
- Deer Are Unpredictable: Always remember deer are wild, and therefore, can be unpredictable. A deer calmly standing on the side of a road may 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 may follow.
- Time of Day: Deer are most active at dawn and dusk. They’re typically seen roadside during the early morning and late evening — when most people are commuting.
- Time of Year: While deer-car collisions can occur any time of year, the fall breeding season is a peak time for such accidents. During the fall breeding season, deer movement increases and this often brings them in contact with roadways that cross their natural habitats. Road shoulders generally provide beneficial food plants both during extremely dry times of the year and following 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 to minimize damage. Resist the urge to swerve to avoid the deer, this may cause further damage, sending drivers off the road or causing a collision with another vehicle. If an accident occurs, alert the police as soon as possible.