Updated in October 2023
Watch Out! It's Deer Season
The months of October and November offer opportunities for hunters to go out into the wild and participate in bagging a deer. Men and women of all ages join the rituals and fun of taking a deer of trophy-worthy proportions. But there is another deer season that is both risky and costly for drivers. We will look at the statistics surrounding collisions with deer and ways to avoid the risks associated with those accidents.
Missouri drivers have a 1 in 80 chance of colliding with an animal, according to the recent report which used 2022 Missouri State Highway Patrol and national statistics.
3,779 Collisions with Deer, 420 injuries, and 3 deaths. Up from previous year.
Deer are especially active the Fall season as rut occurs. Rut is a season of mating and breeding. Because of this season, deer strikes occur mostly between October and November.
Missouri State Highway Patrol reported 3,779 auto collisions in 2021 involved deer, and this resulted in 420 injuries and 3 deaths. State Farm ranks Missouri No. 10 in likelihood of a driver colliding with an animal, based on 2022 numbers, according to the Springfield News Leader.
A national study in 2014 on the severity, frequency, and types of collision provide valuable insight in understanding your risks as a driver.
Average deer claim is $2,730 Deer claims are covered under Comprehensive coverage, which pays out for theft, wind, and various other damages that are not related to collisions (see your policy for a listing of covered perils). While accidents involving deer often result in damages averaging $2,730 per claim, this is still less than the average collision claim for $3,510.
What is the common auto damage in hitting a deer? The most common part of the auto that is damaged in hitting a deer is the front end of the vehicle (87%). Other impacts involve the driver side (7%), the passenger side (5%), or rarely the rear of the vehicle (1%). It is most likely that deer will come from either side of the roadway or may occasionally be standing in the middle of the road. Another thing to consider is that deer may often be moving at the time of an accident, and for this reason there are times that they may bounce up on the vehicle and cause damage to the roof or the windows of the vehicle.
The same national study of deer collision impact on company auto claims also found that certain vehicle models experienced different levels of damage.
The top 5 vehicles for best insurance deer damage claims:
Jeep Wrangler 2-Door – 4WD
Jeep Wrangler 4-Door – 4WD
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Pickup - Crew Cab
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Acura TL 4WD
The top 5 vehicles for worst deer damage claims:
Hyundai Elantra GT
Toyota Prius c hybrid
Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 4WD
Audi Q7 4WD
Subaru Impreza 4WD
(Information derived from data compiled 2011-2013 models).
Overall, claims severity and frequency were directly related to vehicle types with cars having the most frequency, luxury cars following with the highest severity, and lowest severity involved SUV’s. With that in mind, car shoppers should research and consider what vehicles perform best, especially in rural areas with large deer populations. (Status Report; Insurance Institute for Highway Safety; 11-6-2014; Volume 49, Number 9)
How do to avoid collisions with deer?
Risk management for deer collisions should also include awareness of hazards associated with deer and how to avoid becoming a victim of an accident involving a deer.
Speed Matters when hitting a deer!
When traveling in areas that are marked with warning signs, you should slow down and drive within the posted speed limit. Braking time is vital in avoiding animals that would dart out in front of your vehicle.
Be on the Lookout for Animals!
Most collision accidents come from not being alert and keeping your eye on the road. You should be aware of deer standing by the road by observing their shining eyes in the dark. An ideal way to see the dear from a distance is to engage the passengers in your vehicle to help in spying out deer. More eyes are always better,
Watch the Clock and Calendar for Deer!
Deer are typically most active from 6-9 pm, which is the time of the evening when visibility diminishes. In fact, both dawn and dusk are timeframes to be aware of with activity.
Like time awareness, you should understand that there as specific seasons when there is greater potential for accidents. Early fall is the highest activity time due to mating season, but Springtime is also a season of increased movement as deer communities may be moving and taking their new babies along with them.
Turn on Your Bright Lights to See Deer!
Bright lights can help to increase visibility in travel, so be sure to utilize them. Just remember to be courteous and dim them for oncoming traffic.
Remember the Herd Rule!
Where you see one deer, there are typically more. Slow down and stay alert as other deer may be following close behind after a few seconds.
Use Your Horn!
We’ve all heard the phrase, “deer in the headlights” look, but did you know there is a genuine risk of deer becoming mesmerized by headlights? If you see a deer and it seems the animal is paralyzed with fear, try honking your horn or flashing your lights to sort of snap the deer out of fear. Many motorists believe that if a deer is standing still, they will be safe to move past only to find out that the deer can be startled out of its trance.
If you do find yourself in the direct path of a running or moving deer, try to remember that one of the worst things you can do as a motorist is to overreact and swerve to avoid collision. As drivers our natural instincts would be to avoid an accident but swerving as a reflexive move could cause even greater damage to your vehicle or to you. Collisions with other objects such as trees or bridges or oncoming traffic may result in more serious vehicle damage as well as more severe injuries or even death. Instead of swerving or slamming on your brakes, try your best to apply brakes evenly and then let up at the time of impact. Slamming the brakes down often causes the front of the vehicle to dip forward and may cause the deer to roll up on the vehicle and crash into the windshield.
Lean Toward the Door Before Hitting a Deer!
If you are involved in an impact with a deer or other large animal, remember to lean toward your door and not toward the center of the vehicle to avoid any potential injury from broken glass. Do not approach or touch the animal in the road. Pull off the roadway and immediately contact local law enforcement to file a report. Most insurance companies will require a police report for claims purposes.
Be sure to share your knowledge with young drivers as deer accidents are most common for young people between 16-24 years of age.
However you elect to address and mitigate risks for deer collision, please take a moment to reach out to your insurance agent and review your coverage. Be alert, be safe, and steer clear of those deer. We are waiting to assist you today.