Romance is in their air during the months of October through December in the animal kingdom. You are driving down the highway during dawn to work, or home at dusk. Suddenly out of nowhere, a 5-point 400-pound Buck leaps smack into the middle of the road. Sounds ridiculous, but it happens, often this time of the year and on a daily basis. Just ask any auto shop or insurance carrier, who claim to have an uptick of animal-to-vehicle collisions of over 25% during fall.

According to Insurancenews.net the odds of a deer collision are increasing. The population of white-tail deer has escalated to 30 million. That is over 100 times more than a century ago. The odds of hitting a dear are 1 in 169 during the year, but that figure doubles from autumn through early winter as mating and migration season for many large animals commences and the freeways are filled with them. Loss of their natural habitats due to population growth and sprawl, plus decreasing deer hunts have added to an increase in the deer population in suburban areas.  The Insurance Information Institute reports that, 175 automobile fatalities were the direct result of either collision with a deer or avoidance of (a swerve that resulted in a crash). The American Automobile Association estimates that New York State's annual deer-vehicle collisions average at about 65,000 a year, more than 2,200 on the New York State Thruway alone.

The AAA has the following tips for drivers, especially teenagers with permits and probationary licenses. I will stick to the term "deer" to simplify, but these tips also refer to elk, bear, moose and even cows, who also, mate in the fall.

  1. When driving at dusk and after dark, use your highlight high-beams when no oncoming traffic is approaching. This will enable you to see a wider area of the roadway and often spot the eyes and silhouette of deer grazing on the side of the road.
  2. Speaking of grazing, many deer and other wildlife prefer to eat the grass on the shoulder of highways and roadways. That grass has a high salt content from winter road salt and deer enjoy the taste. This makes highway driving particularly dangerous during dusk and dawn.
  3. Deer are herd animals. Bears are pack animals. When you see a doe crossing the street, odds are there are more that will be following. When deer are "rutting" often that lone doe, will have a larger buck somewhere in the vicinity. 
  4. When deer are spotted, use flashers or headlights to warn oncoming drivers.
  5. Always fasten seat belts in vehicles and make sure your passengers, both front and back seat, do so too.
  6. Make sure your headrest is adjusted that you don't get whiplash. One of the biggest injuries that occurs to drivers who strike deer is whiplash. 
  7. If a deer is in the road, blow your horn in one long blast. This will usually cause it to leave. 
  8. And most importantly, if a deer is in the road and you have no warning, you are better off hitting it straight on then swerving. Swerving makes you lose control of the automobile, you can slam into a tree, a pole, hit an oncoming car or roll the vehicle.

If you do have a collision with a deer:

  • Move your vehicle off of the roadway, turn on your hazard lights. It is always a good idea to carry an Emergency Kit inside your car containing flares, cones and other emergency equipment to warn other drivers. 
  • Call 911. Even if you are not injured, the local police department may want to remove any road hazards or tend to the animal. Do not approach the deer. An injured animal will be frightened and deer can weigh hundreds of pounds.
  • Take photographs of accident scene for your insurance claims advocate.
  • When you are safely away from the road, contact your insurance agency. We will help you file a claim and walk you through the process of dealing with your insurance carrier and the auto body shop. 

YOUR LIFE IS WORTH MORE THAN YOUR CAR. YOUR CAR CAN BE MENDED. A BROKEN BACK OR NECK IS MUCH HARDER TO HEAL. NO ONE LIKES TO HIT A DEER, BUT IT HAPPENS EVERYDAY. AND ALTHOUGH YOU LOVE YOUR CAR, IT CAN AND WILL BE FIXED. THAT IS WHY YOU CARRY AUTO INSURANCE.

Now may be a good time to check with your car insurance Customer Service Executive to make sure that your policy has adequate coverage in case of an accident. You can always call us at 845-986-2211 or contact our Claims Dept at http://www.warwickresource.com/client-service/claims-assistance

For further tips on defensive driving during deer season, click on the links below:

http://www.thruway.ny.gov/travelers/safety/drivingsafety.html
http://www.deercrash.org