I-TEAM: 'Tis the season for dodging deer, but what makes this time of year so dangerous for driving?

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Monday, Nov. 18, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- 'Tis the season for dodging deer. We've all seen them, and we've probably all dodged them a time or two.

Maybe you've been unlucky enough to find out how expensive or dangerous a deer crash can be.

It's a story we've been working on the past few weeks. Crazy enough, I-Team Senior Reporter Liz Owens hit one just last night.

But we wanted to know why they come out of the woodwork this time of year. Are there more crashes than usual?

“I know last Saturday I think we counted 15 deer between Augusta and Athens dead on the side of the road driving up for the game,” Carroll Proctor, owner of AC Proctor’s Paint and Body, said.

We can all wish that deer had a very shiny nose just like Rudolph, too. That glow, we bet, would really help.

“In the fall, deer go into their breeding season,” South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Biologist I. B. Parnell said. “It's called the rut, and that rut time period starts typically around mid-October.”

“You start seeing a lot of extra deer movements. The bucks are out looking for does, and the does are just out doing what they normally do that time of year.”

Talk about fatal attraction. We pulled crash data for the past five years. We found local deer movement during the rut is pretty predictable.

They have one thing on their mind, and it isn’t traffic.

“It lasts about a month, so mid-October to mid-November for our state is the prime time where we would expect to see rutting behavior,” Parnell said.

A secondary rut spikes between mid-November to December, which explains the stats. Rutting behavior can be costly.

It keeps Proctor’s body shop busy – really busy.

“We usually have 2 or 3 in the shop every week from early September through early February,” Proctor said. “But now is the prime time, October, November, December.”

Nearly $10,000 worth of damage later, Marie Curtis learned just how expensive deer love can be right on Interstate 20.

“His paw prints came right into the windshield here and his body hit here taking off the window, the mirror, and then hitting the entire side of the car,” Curtis said.

She hit that deer around 7:30 a.m. Experts say an hour before and after sunrise and sunset are the times to be most alert with the most deer movement, but the crash numbers show an interesting trend.

Crashes peak between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. and again at 9 p.m.

If you take daylight saving time into consideration during our peak season, you would think 9 p.m. is a little late, but the darker it gets, the more room for human error.

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