The deer population in the United States is on the rise and this means billions of dollars to insurance companies. Believe it or not, auto accidents involving deer are not rare and are also very costly.
One company, State Farm Insurance, has put quite a bit of time and effort into their analysis of deer-related losses. In recently released data the company estimates that nearly one and a quarter million collisions occurred for the year from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012 that could be attributed to deer.
Topping the list of the states with the most deer strikes is West Virginia. The Appalachian regions as well as the upper Midwest of the United States are the areas where motorists are most likely to run into a deer.
State Farm estimates that these vehicle-deer accidents cost the company more than $3.8 billion for the year ended on June 30. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, nearly 200 people die each year in these accidents. State Farm derived its data from its own claims information as well as state licensed driver counts from the Federal Highway Administration.
Deer-Related Auto Collisions Have Increased
While overall auto insurance claims have been declining, the number of deer-related collisions in the United States has actually increased by 7.7 percent since last year.
“We have known for quite a while that the frequency of auto insurance claims has been declining,” said Chris Mullen, Director Technology Research at State Farm. “But whatever is causing that trend is obviously not impacting deer-related crashes.”
November is the big month for deer-vehicle encounters, according to the State Farm data, with more than 18% of all deer-vehicle collisions occurring during the 30 days of the month.
Knowing this, it is wise to take extra precaution in certain areas of the country during some months of the year.
What You Can Do
- Take extra precautions during the months of October, November, and December when most collisions occur
- Take extra caution when driving in areas known to have large deer populations and especially in areas where deer may be crossing from farm fields over the road into woodlands
- Remember that deer generally travel in groups and single file, so if you see one there are probably more.
- Using your high-beam headlights at night can help you to see the deer
- Special devices such as deer whistles, deer fences, and reflectors have not been proven to reduce the chances of a deer-vehicle collision
- Deer can often become confused when approached by a car. They may be unpredictable so use extreme caution. They may actually move towards an approaching vehicle, they may pause in the roadway, they may even cross over only to come back again.
If a deer collision is imminent the most important thing to do is to maintain control of your vehicle. Many accidents are made worse because the driver lost control and crashed into other cars on the road or objects off the road.
If a collision does occur, it will generally be covered under your comprehensive auto insurance coverage. So, if you are in a high-risk state it’s important to be sure you have adequate coverage for deer-related collisions.