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Posted: October 1, 2010 8:33 a.m.

Oh, Deer!: Automobile collisions with deer are common — and costly

Brittany Thomas/

The buck stops here: Dana Burton recently collided with a deer while she was driving on Georgia Highway 11. The deer was killed, but it wasn't the only thing damaged - Burton's car took damage to its body and radiator. As deer mating season begins...

You've got to watch out while driving in Newton County this time of year, when Bambi turns into Romeo.

October marks the start of mating season for deer, and that means they are on the move.

It also means that they have their minds on love instead of oncoming traffic, so beware.

Georgia drivers stand a 1 in 205 chance in a year of being involved in a vehicle crash with a deer, according to information from State Farm Insurance.

The national average is 1 collision per 217 drivers in a year. West Virginia drivers are the most prone to unfortunate encounters with deer, with 1 collision per 42 drivers in a year.

About 200 drivers are killed in wrecks involving deer in a year and the average collision causes $3,103 in damages to a car, according to State Farm.

The collisions are more likely in the last three months of the year when deer are more active.

"The main thing is it's breeding season and they move around more," said Don McGowan, a biologist with the Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Roadways bordered with woods are especially problematic.

"They can literally pop out and you don't have advance notice," McGowan said.

Covington resident Dana Burton is all-too-well aware of the problem. A deer bounded in front of her GMC

Yukon on Monday as she was traveling about 45 mph on Georgia Highway 11. The collision didn’t end well for the deer, but the SUV faired a bit better, sustaining a burst radiator and some front and side body damage.

"It ran out in front of me," Burton said.

It messed it up pretty bad."

Mike Dinatti, collision center manager for Ginn Chevrolet in Covington, said cars damaged in wrecks with deer are brought in for body work throughout the year, but that there’s a definite uptick about now.

Your initial reaction if a deer bounds into your path is to swerve, but Georgia State Patrol Cpl. Tracy English of the Morgan County barracks said that it’s safer to slow down, try to maintain your lane and hit the deer. Swerving may cause you to lose control of your vehicle and cause a worse wreck.

"It’s better to hit the deer and not try to avoid it," he said.

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