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Deer-vehicle collisions on the rise during mating season

By Gheni_Platenburg
Nov. 22, 2010 at 5:22 a.m.
Updated Nov. 23, 2010 at 5:23 a.m.

Wendy Whiffen-Seale's Nissan Maxima sits in the lot outside of the service center of Victoria Nissan waiting to be fixed on Monday after Seale struck a deer with the car. Don Stewart, advisor for the service department, said that he estimates that $10,000 in damage was caused to the car in the accident.

TIPS TO HANDLE AVOIDING DEER-VEHICLE COLLISIONS:1. Don't accelerate or decelerate too quickly. Deer respond to sound so motorists should gradually decelerate if possible so as to not spook the deer.

2. Be sure to slow down in areas known for deer populations and heed deer crossing signs. Deer venture toward roadways in search of green grass to eat.

3. Turn on high beams on dark roadways and watch out for eyes reflecting in the headlights. High beams increase visibility from 150 feet to 350 feet.

4. Keep an eye out for multiple deer. Deer often travel in groups, so do not assume that the road is clear if one deer has already passed.

5. Increase the distance between your vehicle and other cars, especially at night. If the car ahead of you hits a deer, you may also become involved in the accident.

6. If you see a deer near or on the road, give your car horn one long blast. This sound gives the deer an audible signal to avoid.

7. Do not swerve to avoid contact with deer. This could cause the vehicle to flip or veer into oncoming traffic, causing a more serious crash. Swerving also can confuse the deer as to where to run.

8. After hitting a deer, motorists should pull off to the side of road; turn on their hazard lights and contact law enforcement or 911.

SOURCE: DPS Trooper Gerald Bryant and www.nc-claws.org/deeraccidents.htm

Victoria resident Wendy Whiffen-Seale is still counting her blessings nearly a week after she walked away unscathed from a deer-vehicle collision on U.S. Highway 59.

"I kept thinking I couldn't believe this was happening to me after I had been warning everyone else about the deer," said Whiffen-Seale. "I was very fortunate."

Last Thursday evening, Whiffen-Seale, 48, was traveling north on U.S. Highway 59 near Fannin when she looked down at her black Nissan Maxima's car radio.

When she looked back up, Whiffen-Seale said she saw a large deer standing in the roadway only a car length in front of her.

Whiffen-Seale said she slammed her brakes, threw her car's gear into park and moved to the right side of the two-lane highway all in an effort to avoid the deer, but her efforts proved useless.

Her car struck the deer on the front left bumper, causing thousands of dollars in extensive damage to the vehicle, she said.

Whiffen-Seale is just one of several motorists who have been involved in a deer-vehicle collision during these past few months.

Department of Public Safety records revealed there were nine reported deer-vehicle collisions in the Victoria-area in October and five so far in November.

The majority of these collisions occurred on U.S. Highway 77 South, said Department of Public Safety Trooper and Public Information Officer Gerald Bryant.

Deer are more likely to cross roadways during the early morning and late night hours during deer mating season, which runs from October though December, said Victoria County game warden Travis Haug.

"If you are in a vehicle going 70 mph, it's going to do some serious damage to the deer and the vehicle," Haug warned motorists. "Keep a sharp eye out and do the best you can. Be sure to slow down."

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