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!

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