AAA, the Ohio Department of Insurance, Ohio State Highway Patrol and Ohio Department of Natural Resources remind motorists of the increase in deer-related traffic crashes this time of year.
Since 2017, statistics from the Ohio State Highway Patrol show there were 101,912 deer-related crashes on Ohio’s roadways.
While 95 percent of deer-related crashes only resulted in property damage, 29 crashes resulted in fatal injuries to motorists, with 31 killed. Additionally, 47 percent of these crashes occurred in October, November, and December.
According to the ODNR, deer become visibly active from late October through November. This is due in large part to the fall breeding season.
While males pursue prospective mates throughout the season, they often encounter females that are not yet willing to breed, which can result in pursuits where deer will dart into roadways with little caution.
This unpredictable movement leads to an increase in deer-related vehicle crashes. Drivers are encouraged to be extra cautious in areas where fence rows, riparian corridors, or other blocks of forested habitat intersect a roadway.
Cost of collisions
Colliding with a deer is not only dangerous, it’s also increasingly costly. Recent data estimates the average insurance claim for a deer-vehicle collision in Ohio is nearly $5,000.
Vehicle sensors found on newer vehicles continue to increase repair costs. In fact, AAA found these new safety systems can double repair bills for minor collisions. The included graphic depicts the estimated repair costs for various vehicle sensors (more information at Newsroom.AAA.com). Without adequate insurance, drivers are left footing this bill.
AAA and the Ohio Department of Insurance remind drivers that the optional comprehensive coverage (also known as “other than collision” coverage) portion of an auto insurance policy often is used to pay for deer-vehicle damage repair. Collision or liability-only policies do not cover the damage.
How to avoid animal collisions:
• Scan the road ahead: Looking ahead helps provide enough reaction time if an animal is spotted. Also, remember some animals, like deer, move in groups, so when there is one, there are usually more in the area.
• Use high beam headlights if there is no oncoming traffic: This can help you spot deer or other wildlife more quickly and give you time to slow down, move over or honk the horn to scare the animal away. High beams also help in spotting animals’ reflective eyes.
• Be extra cautious at dawn and dusk: Deer tend to be more active in the early morning and at dusk. That’s why these are peak times for deer-vehicle collisions.
• If a collision is unavoidable, apply the brakes firmly and remain in your lane: Swerving to avoid an animal can often cause a more serious crash or cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Drivers who swerve to miss a deer and hit something else may be charged for an at-fault crash.
• Always wear a seatbelt and remain awake, alert, and sober: The chances of getting injured when hitting an animal are much higher if you don’t have your seatbelt on. If you’re distracted or drowsy, you’re not properly scanning the road for deer and could end up spotting them too late.
What to do if you hit a deer:
• Following the collision, call the police.
• Avoid making contact with the deer/animal. A frightened and wounded animal can be dangerous and pose a threat when approached or might further injure itself.
• Activate the vehicle’s hazard lights whether it’s light or dark outside.
• If possible, move the vehicle to a safe location out of the roadway, and wait for help to arrive.
• Drivers should contact their insurance agent or company representative as quickly as possible to report any vehicle damage.
Ohioans with insurance questions can reach out to the Ohio Department of Insurance at 1-800-686-1526 or via www.insurance.ohio.gov. The website also contains wide-ranging educational insurance information.
AAA provides more than 63 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited online at AAA.com.