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.
In the most recent data provided by the S.C. Department of Public Safety, South Carolina reported 2,460 crashes with animals in 2017.
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 SCDPS also indicates deer-vehicle collisions have declined over the past 25 years.
Yet South Carolina still ranks among the states where the risk of a deer-related crash is highest.
Crashes can be deadly, and they for certain are costly. AAA Carolinas reports that in 2018 the average deer-related claim in the Carolinas totaled $2,500 in damages.
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.
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• 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.
• 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% 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.