Watch the roads: Autumn is peak deer-vehicle collision season


deer-in-highwayAs you’re out on the roads leaf-peeping, visiting apple orchards or commuting to-and-from work this autumn, keep a sharp eye out: The likelihood of striking a deer more than doubles in the fall.

Your normal odds of a ruminant-related collision claim is about 1 in 169, but the likelihood more than doubles during October, November and December, according to research by State Farm.

“Periods of daily high-deer movement around dawn and dusk as well as seasonal behavior patterns, such as during the October-December breeding season, increase the risk for auto-deer collisions,” said Ron Regan, executive director for the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. “Changes in collision rates from year to year are a reflection of changing deer densities or population levels – more deer in a given area increases the potential for collision.”

Here are some other grim facts:

  • 191 deaths were the result of collisions with animals, with deer being the animal most often struck in 2013
  • The national cost per claim average is $4,135, up 6% from 2014 ($3,888)

If you see a deer in the road, should you swerve or not? Mike Winterle of Culture of Safety says don’t swerve:

“The leading cause of accidents, injuries, and deaths from deer-related accidents is when vehicles swerve in an attempt to avoid hitting a deer. Swerving can result in vehicles moving into oncoming traffic, crashing into trees and other objects, or evening rolling over. While it may be against a driver’s first instinct, the safest thing to do is slow down as much as possible and let your vehicle strike the deer. Instincts tell us to avoid an obstruction in the road, but if you can train yourself to not swerve to avoid deer in the road you will keep yourself, your passengers, and other drivers much safer.”

Here are some other tips from experts on how to avoid hitting wildlife:

III has some other advice for drivers: Cars and Deer – A Risky Combination; Consider Including Comprehensive Coverage on Your Auto Policy

For auto insurance advice, find a New England independent insurance agent – our members are the best!

When wild animals decide to take a swim in your pool


When the days get hot and steamy, who doesn’t like a dip in the pool? And while you may not mind sharing the pool with your dog, you may feel less generous about sharing it with other critters. Even if you have a barrier system to keep uninvited visitors out, some pool crashers are persistent. Here’s a group of wild animals who just couldn’t resist the allure of a nice cool pool.

While having a bear or a moose take a dip in your pool might make for a good YouTube video, you probably do not want to be the neighborhood wildlife watering hole. Visits by the larger species are rare occurrences but small critters, particularly baby animals, can easily find their way in but not so easily find their way out. The Humane Society offers tips for pool safety for wild animals.

These stories all have happy endings, but you can’t be too safe. Pool barriers aren’t just for wildlife — unsupervised kids are attracted to pools too, all-too-often with tragic results. About 400 children drown in pools each year and there are also more than 5,000 near-drownings or injuries. Pool Safely offers a variety of safety resources for residential pool / spa owners – as well as for commercial and other pool owners. They offer great information on the latest safety systems, from barriers and alarms to safety covers.

Celebrate World Lion Day (but don’t try this at home)


world-lion-day

Sunday is World Lion Day, a global campaign to celebrate the importance of the lion and to help prevent these majestic creatures from going extinct. If you’d like to learn more about how to support lions, click for a list of organizations active in lion conservation and research.

And we have a few amazing videos to get you in the spirit.

The first is a fun & fascinating clip of lions interacting with a robotic camera buggy -like any cat, they were most curious and photographer Chris McLennon got some truly remarkable shots – up close and personal. If you can’t access the video, see some photos and animated gifs here.

The next is an 11 minute clip on Kevin Richardson, called the Lion Whisperer due to his unique bond with these terrifying but majestic predators. Incredible!

If these videos remind you of their domestic counterpart, the housecat, you may be inspired to adopt a slightly tamer cat from your nearby shelter!

Curious Klepto Critters Steal Cameras: Will insurance cover this?


Cameras are a prime target for theft — and not all thieves are of the human variety. Apparently, animals are almost as intrigued by cameras and selfies as we are. See the cute video clips below.

If a monkey or an eagle steals your camera while you’re on vacation, will your insurance cover that? If you have homeowners, renters or condo insurance, it should – most policies would cover your possessions at home and away, up to a specified dollar limit. Of course, it depends on your particular policy, so check with your agent about your coverage and limits — and to discuss any particularly expensive equipment, collections or items. If these exceed your limits, you may need a valuable property rider. And remember – keep a home inventory, if you don’t already have one.

When you buy expensive technology, it’s a good idea to register it with the manufacturer – not just for the warranty but also for the serial numbers, which can help with tracking in the event of a theft. There’s an online database that might help with recovery — at least if your thief is human. If your thief is of the animal variety, you’re on your own!

Just remember –  don’t put yourself in any danger if you are being robbed, whether animal or human. Property is replaceable – you aren’t.

November is peak deer-auto collision month


November is the month when auto-deer collisions are most likely to occur in New England. The average claim for deer-vehicle collisions is about $3,000 — much more if you factor in the cost of human injuries. Here’s a pop quiz: which New England state has the highest odds for hitting a moose and which has the lowest? The answers might be a little different than think: See this chart for likelihood of collision with a deer by state (PDF) or see the end of this article for just New England states..

Deer-car collisions can also be fatal for more than the deer. According to Massachusetts authorities, about 1 in 2,500 deer collisions results in human fatality

Moose are a whole different ballgame: 1 in 75 moose/vehicle collisions result in a fatality. And no wonder – A full grown moose can stand 6 feet tall at should height, considerably taller when you factor in the head and antlers. Antlers can be massive, with a span of 4 to 6 feet. At up to 1400 pounds in weight, you simply don’t want to hit one.

Check out this 12-step illustrated guide from wikiHow on how to avoid a moose deer collision. The New Hampshire Fish & Game folks also offer some good advice: Avoid Deer/Vehicle Collisions and Brake for moose, it could save your life.

Dangerous moose myth

There’s a persistent dangerous myth that often surfaces about moose-car collisions: some think that if a collision looks inevitable, you should accelerate so the impact will potentially hurtle the animal over the vehicle. Bad idea – MythBusters put this to the test on am Alaska episode using a moose dummy.

“The MythBusters steered a car motoring at 45 miles per hour into Lucy three times: once slowing down, once speeding up and once while maintaining the same speed. The wreckage revealed that slowing down is by far the safest option when running into a moose. Faster speeds deliver a greater force of impact, which the moose absorbs and delivers with a more powerful, damaging smackdown on top of the auto.”

The biggest thing about deer, moose and other wildlife is the surprising speed at which they can appear so moderating your speed is essential, particularly in animal zones during daylight and dusk. And even when they appear stationary, moose have been known to charge cars – especially if they have babies to protect, as in this clip of a protective Mama moose.

New England States – deer collision odds

  • Vermont 1 in 180
  • Maine 1 in 207
  • New Hampshire 1 in 279
  • Connecticut 1 in 299
  • Rhode Island 1 in 373
  • Massachusetts 1 in 524