Study: Peak deer-car crash season this week
LaGRANGE — Motorists in Troup County are more likely to strike a deer while driving this week than at any other time in the year, according to research by the University of Georgia.
The UGA Deer Laboratory, which conducts research on white-tailed deer, used crash data from the Georgia Department of Transportation to determine that more deer-vehicle crashes occur on average in Troup County between today and Monday than at any other time in the year.
The deer lab’s study, published in the Journal of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, determined that deer-vehicle collision rates between 2005 and 2012 closely mirrored increases in deer movement correlated to breeding seasons.
Brian Maddy, UGA’s county extension coordinator in Troup County, said drivers are most likely to spot deer when the sun is rising and setting.
“Most deer collisions will happen within 25 miles of someone’s house,” he said. “Usually it will be at dusk when deer move from where they rest in the day to their feeding stations. That’s when a lot of them will start their movement — dusk and then when the sun is coming up.”
Last year in Troup County, there were 17 vehicle-animal collisions between Nov. 10, 2014, and Nov. 17, 2014, according to David Adams, a crash reporting project manager with the Georgia Department of Transportation. In all of 2014, 197 animal collisions were reported in Troup County.
Adams said that law enforcement officers have the option of reporting collisions as with a deer or an animal in general, so it’s difficult to know exactly how many collisions in 2014 involved just deer.
“Officers have the option of reporting animal or deer,” he said. “It really depends on the quality and frequency of reporting by law enforcement to our (GDOT) database.”
Maddy said that motorists should be vigilant while driving, particularly during dusk and dawn.
“Don’t drive real fast and look for eyes in the ditches where your headlight will reflect of their eyes,” Maddy said of the deer. “If you see one deer cross the road, slow down or stop because there might be two or three behind them.”
Most female deer tend to feed in groups, while males tend to feed alone, he added.
“Slow it down, that’s the key thing, on these rural roads,” Maddy added.
Troup County Sheriff’s Sgt. Stewart Smith echoed Maddy, and cautioned drivers against startling the wild animals.
“If you see them, don’t speed up, hit the breaks or blow your horn because that startles them,” he said. “If you’re in a collision with one, pull off the roadway and dial 911.”