Oh, Deer: Vehicle Collisions On The Upswing

Oh, Deer: Vehicle Collisions On The Upswing

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America’s deer population is out of control in some regions, forcing communities to take drastic steps to cull herds through hunting and other methods. One sure way to get rid of deer is to have a deer-automobile collision, almost always deadly for the deer and extremely dangerous for vehicle occupants. Don’t forget the damage done to these vehicles as well.

Tracking Cervid Accidents

deerState Farm Insurance Companies has been tracking cervid-car collisions for a number of years, noting that such accidents have increased by 18% over the past five years even though the number of vehicles taking to America’s highways and byways has only increased by 7% during that time.

The auto insurance giant, the largest issuer of car insurance policies in the U.S., reported 2.4 million accidents involving deer in a two-year period ending June 30, 2009. West Virginia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Iowa and Montana are the top five states for vehicle accidents with Mountaineer state residents having a 1 in 39 chance that they will hit a deer within the next twelve months.

Thousands of Dollars in Damage

According to State Farm, the average property damage cost of these incidents was $3,050, up 3.4 percent from a year ago. And, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, deer-vehicle collisions in the U.S. cause more than 150 human fatalities each year.

The worst time of the year for deer-vehicle collision is now upon us, as deer migration and mating season from October through the end of the year increases the likelihood of accidents. To that end, State Farm offers the following tips to help drivers reduce the chances that they’ll have an accident:

  • Be aware of posted deer crossing signs. These are placed in active deer crossing areas.
  • Remember that deer are most active between 6 and 9 p.m.
  • Use high beam headlamps as much as possible at night to illuminate the areas from which deer will enter roadways.
  • Keep in mind that deer generally travel in herds – if you see one, there is a strong possibility others are nearby.
  • Do not rely on car-mounted deer whistles.
  • If a deer collision seems inevitable, attempting to swerve out of the way could cause you to lose control of your vehicle or place you in the path of an oncoming vehicle.

State Farm cites growing deer populations as well as urban sprawl as reasons why the number of “hits” are on the rise. Urban sprawl means that deer habitat areas are diminished, forcing deer to travel in search of food and a new home.

Photo Credit: SXU

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