'Tis the season to see not only trick-or-treaters along the roadways, but also a rise in deer and deer-related automobile wrecks, officials say.
"They do move more in the fall," said Vic VanSant, a Georgia Department of Natural Resources Game Management Regional Supervisor.
The deer are seen more often along roadsides in the fall because they are moving more than normal to find food and females in heat, VanSant said.
More of those deer are being hit by motorists lately, said Pam Tucker, the director of Columbia County's Emergency Services Division.
More than 30 deer carcasses that have been hit by vehicles were picked up by county's Animal Care and Control officers from several roads in the past two weeks, including 25 between Oct. 17 and Oct. 25, she said. More than 250 have been collected on county roads this year, Tucker said.
The roads with the most deer pick-ups include William Few Parkway, Furys Ferry Road, Appling-Harlem Highway and Washington Road.
Most wrecks involving deer are minor for motorists, leaving only dented fenders and hoods.
"But occasionally, there are deaths," Tucker said. "They (deer) can hit the front of the car and come through the front windshield.
"Driving slow, especially during the evening hours, is so critical because it allows so much more time to get control to stop.''
Most wrecks with deer occur between October and December, the breeding season, and more than half happen between 5 p.m. and midnight, according to the National Safety Council.
One area paint and body shop repairs many of the damages resulting from deer-vehicle collisions.
Penny Carpenter, bookkeeper for Cushman Paint and Body on Washington Road in Evans, said the shop has seen an increase in deer-related repairs lately.
"They have begun to come in a little more often, five or six just in this past week," Carpenter said Wednesday.
But Carpenter said that with the shop's clientele living and traveling more rural roads of Columbia County, she expects the usual rise in deer-related wrecks in the fall.
"All the insurance companies see an increase in claims," Carpenter said.
Tucker suggested several ways to avoid a collision with a deer, including driving slowly along roads where deer are seen often and being extra cautious around dusk and dawn.
The National Safety Council reported that 530,000 deer-related wrecks in 2003 resulted in 10,000 injuries and 100 deaths. But not all were a direct result of the deer, such as it coming through the windshield. More were the result of drivers' reactions to a deer in their path.
"Experts say continue on the path (you are traveling)," Tucker said. "Do not try to veer over into the other lane because of oncoming traffic and ditches that can flip your car."
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