Deer-vehicle collisions on the rise - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Deer-vehicle collisions on the rise

November 15, 2005

Worth County- Troopers say 68 year old Luther Johnson was headed east on Highway 32 just past Doles Tuesday morning when he hit the deer. He stopped his pick-up truck in the westbound lane with his headlights on. Then he and his passenger got out to look at the damage.

Thirty-one year old Ronnie Buchanan was headed east on Highway 32 and thought he was going to crash head-on with Johnson's truck. Troopers say Buchanan swerved onto the northbound shoulder to avoid hitting the truck but struck and killed Johnson. Charges have not been filed.

Deer hunting season is also deer collision season.

"Our deer accidents are very high. Hunting season has come in. The deer are more apt to be moving more now," says Trooper Darryl Benton.

DNR Game Management officials say the population of deer in the state is under control.

"It's remained the same for about the last few years. We estimate it somewhere between a million and 1.2 million deer in the state," says Steve Ruckel Wildlife Program Supervisor for Southwest Georgia Game Management.

Ruckel says the only practical way to control that number is by hunting.

"We've got a very ample bag limit of 12 deer that you can take each year. We have a long season here in Georgia. In this part of the state the whole season is what we call either sex day so you can take the does as well as the bucks," Ruckel says.

But DNR officials admit it's difficult to control the number of deer in developed areas because some ordinances prevent hunting there. The problem could worsen as South Georgia counties continue to grow.

"When you have more people you have more traffic and therefore you automatically increase the chances of hitting a deer just by having more cars on the road," Ruckel says.

"Look down the road. Look for an avenue of escape, and instead of applying their brakes and skidding, basically just lay off the brakes and try to steer through the accident itself," Benton says.

But even after driving defensively, some collisions can't be avoided. So troopers urge motorists to watch out for oncoming traffic.

"Make sure that the vehicle is safely off of the roadway before you exit the vehicle. By all means don't get out of the vehicle while it is still in the roadway. If your vehicle becomes disabled, then get out of the vehicle and get away from it so that you won't be involved in an accident of an oncoming vehicle as well," Benton says.

DNR officials say they are also looking into whether certain types of plants grown along roadways attract deer. They say they're working with transportation officials to offer other solutions for types of plants to grow in their place.

Troopers say it's not required that you call them to work the wreck if you hit a deer, unless someone is seriously injured. You can still file a claim with your insurance company by obtaining an incident report from local sheriff's or police departments.

Feedback: news@walb.com

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