Colder weather brings out deer

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 15, 2014

As cold weather moves into the area and the season changes, drivers are encouraged to remain vigilant in watching for deer.

Earlier this week, a McKenzie man was injured when his motorcycle struck a deer on Hwy. 29 north of Gantt.

Timothy Stacey Dugger fell from the motorcycle, and he was transported by Advanced EMS to Andalusia Regional hospital for treatment

Bystanders said that Dugger was conscious and talking before he was transported, and hospital officials said he was in stable condition, but no other information is available.

Alabama State Trooper spokesman Kevin Cook said these types of accidents occur more frequently during colder weather.

Cook provided statistics for statewide deer-related collisions, which showed there were 2,167 crashes, 180 injuries and one fatality in 2013.

2013 brought an increase of more than 150 deer-related crashes, and 40-plus more injuries were reported.

Insurance agencies agreed that their has been an influx in deer-related accidents.

“We have seen a ton of deer-related insurance claims,” Sanbuck Insurance Agent Mellisa King said. ”From our standpoint in here, the rate is on the rise.

“A comprehensive claim doesn’t hurt you like a collision claim, and 9-times-out-of-10 at faults affect you more than a comprehensive claim,” she said. “We highly recommend people keep comprehension, because these kinds of accidents happen and you can’t help it.”

Steve Palmer owner of Palmer & Son Collision Center, said he had two vehicles in his lot that had been involved in a deer-related collision within the last week.

“This time of year business is up by 40 percent over normal because of deer, but you still have your normal car-on-car damage,” Palmer said. “The shop normally falls behind this time of year, not necessarily because of the weather, but because of this volume of work.”

“Forty-five percent of our business is what we would call comprehensive, or an ‘act of God,’ and 55 percent being collision accidents,” he said. “Majority of what we see this time of year is car versus deer.”

Palmer said that most deer accidents don’t result in injuries, and much of that damage is what he refers to as “soft damage.”

“Within the last five years, the cost of deer damage has gone up 25-35 percent,” Jennifer Palmer said. “It’s not that there are more deer or more damages, it’s just the cost of repair.”

The Alabama Insurance Information Service recommends taking the following precautions when dealing with deer on the roads:

• drive with caution when moving through areas known to have a large deer population;

• always wear seat belt and stay awake, alert and sober;

• when driving at nigsht, use high beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic. The high beams will better illuminate the eyes of deer on or near the roadway;

• be especially attentive from sunset to midnight and during the hours shortly before and after sunrise;

• brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path, but stay in your lane; and

• do not rely on devices such as deer whistles or deer reflectors. These devices have not been proven effective.

“Statistically, if you don’t do anything out of the ordinary you stand a better chance,” Palmer said. “Anything in the environment that changes, scares them.”