SC drivers at high risk for dangerous surprise: Bambi on roads

jmonk@thestate.comOctober 1, 2013 

— Drivers around South Carolina have more chance of crashing into a deer than drivers in most other states, according to an insurance company study.

“South Carolina drivers face a higher likelihood of striking a deer than the national average and rank 11th out of the 50 states,” says Justin Tomczak, a spokesman for State Farm insurance company, the nation’s largest auto insurance firm..

Already this year, four people – three on motorcycles and one in a car – have died after crashing into a deer. Six South Carolinians died last year.

The last three happened in September.

Several weeks ago, a husband and wife riding their Kawasaki motorcycle down a road in a wooded area in Barnwell County died after striking a deer.

A few days later, in Richland County, Jonathan J. McNaughton, 31, died after his motorcycle struck a deer in the 3100 block of Kennerly Road Tuesday., according to county coroner Gary Watts.

In 2012 in South Carolina, 518 people were injured in deer -human collisions and 1,935 vehicles or other property were damaged, according to the Department of Public Safety. So far this year, as of Aug. 31, 238 people have been injured and 805 cases of property damage to vehicles have been reported.

Around the country, the odds that a driver will strike a deer has declined by about 4 percent, State Farm’s study said.

West Virginia is the state in which a driver is most likely to strike a deer, with the company estimated that the chances are 1 in 41. Hawaii is the state in which deer-vehicle crashes are least likely.

In the 12 months between July 1, 2012, and June 30 of this year, there were about 1.2 million collisions around the country caused by deer, State Farm estimates.

Most collisions occur in November, which is the height of the deer hunting and mating seasons. Approximately 18 percent of all deer-vehicle crashes take place in November. October and December are also to months for such crashes.

The average property damage in a deer crash runs about $3,400, State Farm says.

State Farm and deer experts offered these tips to avoid deer crashes:

•  Deer generally travel in herds – if you see one, others may be nearby.

• Be aware of posted deer crossing signs.

• Remember that deer are most active in the hours around dusk and dawn.

• Use high beam headlamps as much as possible at night to illuminate areas where deer might enter roadways.

• If a deer collision seems inevitable, keep going straight. Attempting to swerve out of the way could cause you to lose control of your vehicle or place you in the path of an oncoming vehicle.

• Don’t rely on car-mounted deer whistles.

Reach Monk at (803) 771-8344.

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