Fatalities from vehicle crashes with deer and other animals have more than doubled over the last 15 years, according to a new study by an auto insurance-funded highway safety group.
The National Highway Loss Data Institute found that there are approximately 1.5 million Deer/Vehicle Collisions resulting in over 300 human deaths (the deer nearly always die) and 30,000 injuries. Texas has the highest number of deaths, followed by Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. The damages cost the insurance companies over $1 Billion each year.
"Urban sprawl means suburbia and deer habitat intersect in many parts of the county," said Kim Hazelbaker, of the Highway Loss Data Institute. "If you're driving in areas where deer are prevalent, the caution flag is out, especially in November."
November is the beginning of the mating season for deer, and they're moving around a lot during this season. Insurance claims for crashes are three times higher in November than from January through October.
I lived the first 37 years of my life in Michigan, a state with a huge deer population. We learned as teenagers to always be alert for deer along roads and highways. We all knew someone who had hit a deer with their vehicle at some time. I remember driving back from Traverse City to Whitehall one fall evening, which was a trip of about 100 miles. I counted 46 times I slowed when seeing deer standing near the road on that one trip.
So make sure that, no matter what state you live in, you are aware that animals can be a serious danger when you're driving.
About a month ago, I handled a claim for a trucker in Pennsylvania who swerved to miss a deer, lost control of this rig, and overturned onto his right side. His tractor, trailer and his cargo were all total losses, costing the insurance company over $100,000. When the police officer arrived on the scene, he gave the driver a ticket because there wasn't a dead deer at the scene! I recommended to the driver that he fight that ticket.
Here are the Top Seven Ways to Avoid Hitting a Deer When Driving (per the National Safety Council)
1. Be vigilant in early morning and evening hours, the most active time for deer.
2. Use your high beam headlights, which reflect in the deer's eyes, to see the deer better. Remember, it normal to see reflectors along roads on mailboxes and fences. But if a reflector moves, it's likely a deer's eye.
3. Slow down and blow your horn with one long blast to frighten the deer away.
4. Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path. Do not swerve. It can confuse the deer as to where to run. It can also cause you to lose control and hit a tree or another car.
5. Be alert and drive with caution when you are moving through a deer crossing zone. Highway departments don't put those signs along roads just for decoration.
6. Always wear your seatbelt. Most people injured in deer/vehicle crashes were not wearing their seatbelts.
7. Look for other deer after one has crossed the road. Deer seldom run alone.
There is a small, bullet-shaped device called SAV-A-LIFE Deer Alert, that can be easily mounted on the front bumper of a vehicle. As the vehicle reaches a speed above 30 mph, air rushing through the device emits an ultrasonic signal up to a quarter mile away, literally stopping animals in their tracks. The sound emitted by the device cannot be detected by passengers in the vehicle and not perceptible to people on the roadside.
The SAV-A-LIFE Deer Alerts have been in use for over 30 years, and are used by individual drivers, truck fleets, State Troopers and wildlife agencies. It costs less than $25.00 in stores all over America, or go to: www.sav-a-life.com/Deeralert_intro.htm
If you are one of the unfortunate people who experience a deer/vehicle collision, you'll need to know how to handle your insurance claim so that you maximize your recovery. You will need to know how to take control of your insurance claim, and add hundreds or even thousands more dollars to your claim settlement. For more information, check out the website shown below in the Resource Box.
Stay Alert and Stay Alive!!