The post-Labor Day death toll and number of accidents on the state’s roads are annually magnified by encounters with the state’s large population of white tail deer.
The good news is South Carolina drivers are slightly less likely to collide with a deer than they were last year, according to new claims data from State Farm. One in 95 South Carolina drivers is likely to collide with a deer, a slight improvement considering during the previous year, one in 93 drivers was likely to hit a deer.
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources estimates deer numbers are lower in South Carolina compared to peak levels in the late 1990s. And data collected by the South Carolina Department of Public Safety also indicates deer-vehicle collisions have declined over the past 25 years.
Yet according to State Farm, South Carolina is ranked 12th in the country with 38,951 auto claims connected to deer collisions across the state from July 2016 to June 2017. For the 11th year in a row, West Virginia tops the list of states where a collision is most likely.
Crashes can be deadly, and they for certain are costly. The national claim cost per claim average from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017 was $4,179 — an increase from $3,995 from 2015-16.
To avoid crashes, the Insurance Information Institute and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recommend:
• Use extra caution in known deer zones.
• At night, when there is no oncoming traffic, use high beams.
• Avoid swerving when you see a deer.
• Scan the road for deer and other danger signs.
• Do not rely on devices such as deer whistles.
And here are some deer facts that all drivers should know:
• Deer are on all roads.
• Deer are unpredictable.
• Deer often move in groups.
• Deer movement is most prevalent in the fall.
• Dusk and dawn are high-risk times.
For those in The T&D Region, one of the leading places in the state for deer hunting and trophy deer, it is particularly important to be aware of the risk from October through December.
You will see more deer on the roads now. Deer hunting runs from August through December and there’s a dramatic increase in the movement of the herd during the months when the animals are mating and migrating.
Studies show that about 45 percent of deer-vehicle collisions occur in roughly a 60-day period that corresponds with the breeding season. In South Carolina, “rut” is generally during the months of October and November.
With an increase in the likelihood of vehicle/deer collisions, it’s important that drivers are practicing safe driving habits and watching out for animals on the road. And wearing your seat belt can be difference between being OK or sustaining severe injury in the event of a deer-vehicle encounter.