COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - November is one of the highest months for collisions between deer and cars in South Carolina. The state is ranked 18th in the country with a 1-in-140 chance of having a collision with a deer.
Whether at dawn or dusk, a deer can run in front of your car in a matter of seconds. When it happens, the result can leave your car in shambles and it's usually not a happy ending for the deer either.
Experts estimate that over the last two years there have been 2.3 million deer-related accidents. That is equivalent to 95,000 a month or 3,200 a day.
Deer vs. car collisions cause about 200 deaths per year. Experts say that number could be on the rise, due to growing deer populations and the fact that their habitats are being displaced by urban development.
Deer migration and mating season in the U.S. takes place from October through December. This is when deer are most vulnerable and collisions happen.
So how do you protect yourself? Many companies believe deer whistles can keep deer out of your headlights. It's a device you put on your car which emits a high frequency noise that is supposed to keep the deer away.
But, the top deer expert in South Carolina isn't buying it. Charles Ruth heads the deer programs for Department of Natural Resources. He says he won a deer whistle at a convention, but never opened it. He says he didn't see the point.
If you have ever wondered what makes a deer run out in front of your car, Ruth says deer are not big thinkers. He says they are just trying to get from point A to point B, "Again, they are not real smart. They're instinctive. You can't expect it to react," said Ruth. "Really, any animal doesn't have the intelligence to get out of the way of a car."
Deer whistles emit a high frequency sound which, manufacturers say, scares deer away. However, Ruth says the majority of research doesn't support that, "The more scientific the study, the poorer the results for the deer whistle," said Ruth.
Ruth says one study from the University of Georgia found that the highest frequency whistle they tested actually seemed to attract deer.
According to Ruth, deer whistle or not, your best bet is defensive driving. If you see a deer or two on the side of the road, honk your horn, turn on and off your high beams and slow down. "If you have a situation where a collision is imminent, hit the deer," Ruth said.
West Virginia tops the list of most likely states for deer vs. car collisions.