Deer and driver related accidents continue to rise as the deer population continues to increase. According to recent studies, these kinds of accidents will continue to inflate as deer populations grow and urban habitats invade rural landscapes.
The National Safety Council says there were 530,000 animal-related accidents in 2003 alone and that 100 of those accidents resulted in death and 100,000 resulted in injuries.
The incident numbers are high and so are the costs. The average cost per claim is about $2,800. Costs vary based on the kind of damage inflicted and the kind of vehicles involved.
When bodily injury claims are added, the average cost of a claim rises to $10,000.
How to Avoid Hitting Deer
High-risk times for deer and vehicle collisions are before and after sunrise. Avoid driving during these times.
As you drive through areas known for heavy deer populations, slow down. Also keep in mind that if you see one deer, more are close behind as deer rarely run alone.
Use high beams to illuminate the road at night if no other cars are close. High beams can reflect off of deer’s eyes- showing you if they‘re on the road or nearby.
If you see a deer on the road, honk your car horn with one, loud, blast to scare them off the road.
If a deer is in your lane, brake firmly and stay in your lane. Serious accidents happen when drivers swerve to avoid hitting deer on the road. Swerving can lead to collisions with other vehicles nearby.
Wear your seatbelt. Most bodily injury claims arise from people who did not wear their seatbelts.
Deer whistles, deer fences, and deer reflectors do not reduce deer/vehicle collisions.
If you hit a deer, don’t get out of your car to touch and inspect it. If the deer is injured, it can hurt you further because it’s scared. The best practice is to get the vehicle off of the road and call the police for help.
Call your insurance provider right away to report damages. Collision with animals is covered under comprehensive auto insurance policies.
At the Scene
Know what to do in the event of a collision. Your clear-headed thinking can save lives and save you from a painful claims process.
- Find out if anyone is hurt.
- Call the police or state troopers. Be prepared with information about how many people were hurt and the kinds of injuries they incurred. Trust the police to let the nearest medical unit know.
- If there are injured people, keep them warm with blankets or additional layers.
- Protect the scene of the accident as much as possible. Take precautions to protect your vehicle from additional damage. Set flairs and cones if possible, then get off the road anc all a tow truck.
- Get a copy of the police report. You can ask the officer how to get one quickly. Your insurance company will want a copy in order to process your claim.
- If needed, get your vehicle towed to a repair shop. Don’t move forward on repairs until you know your insurance provider doesn’t need to inspect the car to appraise the damages.
- Take good notes. You should always have a pen and paper in the car with you. Here are a list of things to note: names and addressed of all people involved, license plate numbers, makes and models of cars, driver’s license numbers, insurance I.D. numbers, names and contact information for witnesses, the names and badge numbers of police officers and other emergency personnel.
- If an unattended vehicle is involved in the accident, try to find the owner but if you can’t, leave a note with your name, address, and phone number and then take notes on the entire incident.