With the recent time change and deer on the move, AAA East Central cautions drivers to be especially vigilant on the roads in animal-prone areas. November and December are the most common months of the year for motor vehicle collisions with animals due to deer mating season. Inconvenience, cost, and possible injury can add up to major headaches for motorists.
“More collisions between vehicles and deer occur in November than any other month,” says Mark Sisson, vice president of Insurance, AAA East Central. “One of our top claims in the winter is for vehicles that have been totaled from hitting animals, and the costs can be staggering.”
According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, there are more than 1.5 million deer-vehicle collisions each year, resulting in 150 human deaths and tens of thousands of injuries. In addition to possibly causing injury, deer collisions can lead to costly damage to vehicles. AAA Insurance reports that it’s average deer-related claim in the region is about $3,500, though costs can be much higher depending on the damage to a vehicle.
AAA’s Recommendation: Check Your Coverage.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) finds that between 2014 and 2017 there were 1,740,425 animal-related insurance claims processed in the United States with collisions with deer causing the most claims. The actual number of incidents is likely much higher since many drivers do not choose to carry coverage for this type of event. Collision coverage pays for damage to your car resulting from a collision with an object (e.g., a telephone pole, a guard rail, a mailbox), or as a result of flipping over. Comprehensive coverage is for damage to your car covered by disasters “other than collisions”, contacts (in this case, contact/collision with animals) and are paid for under the comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy.
“While opting for comprehensive coverage may add to your premium, it could save you money down the road,” continued Sisson.
To help prevent a crash or to reduce damage from an animal collision, AAA suggests motorists:
Pay attention to road signs. Yellow, diamond-shaped signs with an image of a deer indicate areas with high levels of deer activity.
Keep your eyes on the road. Ditching distractions is one of the easiest ways to make sure you’re ready for when a deer comes out of nowhere.
Be especially attentive in early morning and evening hours. Many animals, especially deer, are most active from 5-8 a.m. and 5-8 p.m., prime commuting times for many.
Use high beams when there’s no oncoming traffic. You can spot animals sooner. Sometimes the light reflecting off their eyes will reveal their location.
Slow down, and watch for other deer to appear. Deer rarely travel alone, so if you see one, there are likely to be more nearby.
Resist the urge to swerve. Instead, stay in your lane with both hands firmly on the wheel. Swerving away from animals can confuse them so they don’t know which way to run. It can also put you in the path of oncoming vehicles or cause you to crash into something.
If the crash is imminent take your foot off the brake. During hard braking, the front end of your vehicle is pulled downward which can cause the animal to travel up over the hood towards your windshield. Letting off the brake can protect drivers from windshield strikes because the animal is more likely to be pushed to one side of the vehicle or over the top of the vehicle.
Consider purchasing comprehensive insurance, if you don’t already have it. Comprehensive insurance is the type of insurance that covers animal strikes.
In the event of a collision with an animal, AAA recommends:
Call the police.
Avoid making contact with the animal. A frightened or wounded animal can hurt you or further injure itself.
Put the vehicle’s hazard lights on, whether it’s light or dark outside.
If possible, immediately move the vehicle to a safe location, out of the roadway, and wait for help to arrive.
Contact your insurance agent or company representative as quickly as possible to report any damage to your car.
AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 78 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia serving 2.7 million members. News releases are available at news.eastcentral.aaa.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.