Tag Archives: animal collisions

Deer season creates road hazards

By Max Dorfman, Research Writer, Insurance Information Institute

Deer season—which usually runs from October through December—can be a dangerous time for motorists. During this period, deer are moving frequently and often cross over dangerous areas, like highways and other heavily-trafficked areas.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there are more than 1.5 million accidents related to deer every year, which result in over $1 billion in vehicle damages. And these accidents aren’t merely expensive: 211 people died in collisions with animals in 2017.

Indeed, between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019 one out of every 116 drivers had an insurance claim from hitting an animal, according to State Farm. These claims were most likely in West Virginia, with one in 38 people making an insurance claim based on this kind of accident.

With this in mind, it’s important to take precautions when driving during this period of the year. Deer often travel in groups, so it’s vital to slow down with even one deer on the side of the road. Additionally, try to brake instead of swerving if faced with a crash. Above all, be alert—there’s no substitute for prudence during deer season.

The Insurance Information Institute has Facts & Statistics on deer vehicle collisions here.

Deer-Vehicle Collision Frequency Jumps

The number of vehicles on U.S. roadways has grown by 7 percent over the last five years, but the number of times those vehicles have collided with deer has jumped by 18.3 percent. In its latest study of annual deer claims, State Farm estimates 2.4 million collisions between deer and vehicles occurred in the U.S. during the two-year period between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2009. Among the 35 states where at least 7,000 deer-vehicle collisions occur per year, New Jersey and Nebraska posted the largest increases of 54 percent. Deer-vehicle collisions also jumped by 41 percent in Kansas, by 38 percent in Florida, Mississippi and Arkansas, by 34 percent in Oklahoma and by 33 percent in West Virginia, North Carolina and Texas. For the third year in a row, West Virginia tops the list of those states where a collision with a deer is most likely. State Farm puts the chance of a West Virginia vehicle colliding with a deer in the next 12 months at 1 in 39. Michigan (1 in 78) remains second on that list followed by Pennsylvania (1 in 94), Iowa (1 in 104) and Montana (1 in 104). The state in which deer-vehicle collisions are least likely is still Hawaii (1 in 9,931). The average property damage cost of these incidents was $3,050, up 3.4 percent from a year ago. Check out I.I.I. tips on avoiding deer-vehicle collisions.

Animal Strike Claims and Fatalities Increase

New analysis of insurance claims and federal crash data indicate rising levels of insurance claims for animal collisions. The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) and its affiliate the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) also report that while most vehicle-animal collisions aren’t severe enough to injure people, crash deaths are increasing. The number of people to die in crashes involving animals more than doubled from 101 in 1993 to 223 in 2007. Between 1993 and 2007, the states with the largest number of total deaths were: Texas with 227 deaths; Wisconsin with 123; and Pennsylvania with 112. As with other types of crashes, seat belts and motorcycle helmets are major factors in preventing fatalities.

The study also reveals that insurance claims for animal collisions are nearly three times higher during November than during January to September. For example, for every 1,000 insured vehicles 14 claims were filed in November 2007, compared with an average of five claims per 1,000 during January-September. Insurance claims usually don’t specify the animal involved, but other data show that deer are the main ones. The study follows State Farm’s recent study of annual deer claims (see our October 13 posting). Check out I.I.I. facts and stats on highway safety.  

  

Deer-Vehicle Collisions by State

For the second year in a row a State Farm study of annual deer claims has found that the vehicles most likely to collide with deer are in West Virginia. State Farm estimates the chance of a West Virginia vehicle colliding with a deer in the next 12 months at 1 in 45. That’s roughly two times greater than the possibility that you will be audited by the Internal Revenue Service in 2009 and 1,100 times greater than your chance of winning a state lottery grand prize if you buy one ticket per day for the next year, according to State Farm. Michigan (1 in 78) remains second on the list of states where deer-vehicle collisions are most frequent, followed by Pennsylvania (1 in 97), Iowa (1 in 105) and Arkansas (1 in 108). The state in which deer-vehicle collisions are least likely is still Hawaii (1 in 10,962). The average property damage cost of these incidents was just over $2,950, up 2.5 percent from a year ago. State Farm used its deer claims data from the last half of 2007 and the first half of 2008 and motor vehicle registration counts by state from the Federal Highway Administration. The Insurance Information Institute estimates that there are more than 1.6 million deer-vehicle collisions each year, resulting in over $3.6 billion in vehicle damage. Check out I.I.I. tips for avoiding deer-related collisions.  

Top States For Deer/Vehicle Collisions

Cars and deer can be a lethal combination, particularly during deer migration and mating season which generally runs from October through December. A State Farm study of annual deer claims data from 2006 to 2007 and motor vehicle registration counts by state from the Federal Highway Administration, highlights the growing frequency and cost of deer/vehicle collisions. The upshot is that West Virginia is the leading state by frequency. State Farm estimates the chance of a West Virginia vehicle colliding with a deer in the next 12 months at 1 in 57. That’s three times more likely than one estimate of the possibility that a person will be audited by the Internal Revenue Service in 2008 and 5,000 times more likely than the chance that an individual will be struck by lightning in the next year, according to State Farm. Michigan (1 in 86) is second on the list of states where deer/vehicle collisions are most frequent, followed by Wisconsin (1 in 99), Pennsylvania (1 in 100) and Iowa (1 in 109). State Farm’s data also shows that the total number of deer/vehicle collisions in the U.S. has increased 6.3 percent over a year ago. The average property damage cost of these incidents also increased by 3 percent to just under $2,900.  

Northern Exposure

We all know cars and deer can be a lethal combination, particularly during deer season which generally runs from October through December. But moose, weighing up to 1,000 lbs, can present even greater risks for drivers and their insurers. For example, reports out of Anchorage warn that moose collisions could be double or even triple the average this winter as heavy snow has led more moose than ever to wander into city limits. The Alaska Moose Federation notes that in 2006 some 236 moose were killed on Alaskan highways, with an average cost per accident of $8,356. Vigilant driving is part of the answer, but new high-tech solutions may also help to better manage this risk. Take Connecticut, where state wildlife officials have just announced they will use GPS collars to track and collect data on the state’s moose population. Now just imagine that regulators allowed auto insurers to use a similar system to monitor the habits of their policyholders.