It's that time of year again, Bambi is on the move and western PA drivers need to exercise extra caution while on the roadways. The peak times for deer related accidents begin in October and continue through December. Real injury and even death can result in these sort of incidents, and anyone who's hit a deer (or worse, an elk or moose) knows the expensive damage that can be done.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, 1.6 million deer-vehicle collisions occur each year, resulting in 200 fatalities, tens of thousands of injuries and over $3.6 billion in vehicle damage. Where do these accidents usually happen? Is there any way to avoid them, or at least mitigate their damage? Being prepared can help prevent you from adding to these statistics.
Deer collisions are more common in autumn for a couple of reasons:
In order to stay safe during this time of year, practice the following tips to keep safe during deer season:
1. Be extra alert when driving during dusk or dawn
Deer are most active during sunrise and sunset, especially during the mating season, October through December. Maintaining your alertness during these times, and anytime you are driving, is important. Pay extra attention around deer crossing signs. In PA, it's estimated there are 30 deer per square mile, so they could be anywhere. Just the other day we had 3 hang out in front of our office for a couple minutes then bound across 56.
2. Be extra alert if you spot a deer
Deer tend to travel in packs, so if you see one deer chances are good there are more about to cross your path. Slow down and proceed with caution.
3. Use your headlights
The time of day when deer are most active is also the time our vision is the most compromised. If there is no oncoming traffic, use your high beams, this will make it easier to see and hopefully spot bambi well in advance. Deer eyes typically reflect headlights, which should make them easier to spot.
4. Don't swerve
If you see a deer, brake firmly and calmly, and stay in your lane. Swerving could make you lose control of your vehicle and turn a bad situation much worse. Most injuries happen due to vehicles going off the roadway to avoid the deer. Deer are unpredictable, and if you swerve you could swerve directly into their changed path.
5. Buckle up
A seat belt is your best defense for minimizing your risk in a crash. An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study found that 60 percent of the people killed in animal-vehicle collisions weren’t wearing their seat belts.
Now, If the above plan fails (and it happens to the best drivers), you should take the following steps in the deer collision aftermath.
If you are unsure if your insurance policy would cover your vehicle if you hit a deer, contact us today to find out. After you've hit a deer is a terrible time to find out it would not be covered.
Stay safe out there!