February 4, 2023

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) – If you live in Georgia, you know that deer are a common obstacle in rural areas. As a result, accident repair shops are also busy outside of the game season.

“I know it’s not just me. It was my turn. I knew it was inevitable,” said Nikki Bryant, a deer collision victim.

Bryant hit a deer head-on in November 2022 while driving to work on a side road.

“It pretty much came out of nowhere, so I didn’t brake, brake or stop. I hit it at about 64 mph,” Bryant said.

Bryant was left with two blown radiators and her car’s front end smashed in – all with repairs costing up to $13,000. She just got her car back this month after the repairs took two months. The auto repair shop was missing parts.

“So it was a challenge to overcome that,” Bryant said.

Nikki Bryant ran into a deer head-on in November.
Nikki Bryant ran into a deer head-on in November.(Nikki Bryant)

Dougherty County Police responded to 11 wild animal collisions in one week.

“So far in 2023, we’ve had 22 wildlife accidents,” said Lt. David McVey, a Dougherty County Police Officer.

Fortunately, none of these accidents were fatal. McVey said that because the deer breeding season runs from October through late December, calls are common at this time of year.

Bryant isn’t alone in her fear of meeting a deer again. According to the Insurance Information Institute, US drivers had 1.9 million pet accident insurance claims between July 2021 and June 2022. In Georgia, according to State Farm, 1 in 83 accidents is deer accidents.

“I mean it’s scary. It’s scary to drive to work every day. There just seems to be overpopulation,” Bryant said.

Nikki Bryant said more hunting opportunities could help reduce wildlife collisions.
Nikki Bryant said more hunting opportunities could help reduce wildlife collisions.(WALB)

She added that opening up more hunting opportunities could help the deer population. Currently, the hunting season begins in mid-October and ends in early January.

“Given the overpopulation and the damage to vehicles and property, there seems to be an opportunity to increase that time to give people more time to hunt these deer to perhaps correct the overpopulation,” Bryant said.

McVey said it doesn’t matter day or night, accidents involving wildlife can happen at any time, so there are a few safety tips you should know if you continue to get behind the wheel.

McVey said swerving is the worst thing motorists could do in a wild collision.
McVey said swerving is the worst thing motorists could do in a wild collision.(WALB)

“You can try shining your lights on a deer to get its attention and also blow your horn,” McVey said.

McVey added that when the wild collision is unavoidable, it’s safer for you to stay in your lane rather than swerve.

“Try to reduce the impact as much as possible. Often people try to dodge to avoid the deer and end up punching the deer anyway. It’s just not worth it,” McVey said.

If you would like to join the discussion on wildlife collision issues, click here here.

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