If you’re hitting the highway for holiday travel, roaming wildlife can make navigating roads, highways and interstates dangerous.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), this time of year is ideal for deer migrating and mating, leading to more deer-vehicle collisions than any other period of the year. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates that there are more than 1.5 million deer-vehicle collisions annually. These encounters result in 150 occupant deaths, thousands of injuries and more than $1 billion in vehicle damage.
Vehicle collisions with deer or other animals are typically covered under the optional comprehensive portion of auto insurance. The III offers the following tips to help you be aware and to take precautions in keeping you and your family safe this holiday season.
- Deer are not just found on rural roads near wooded areas; many deer crashes occur on busy highways near cities.
- Deer are unpredictable, especially when faced with glaring headlights, blowing horns and fast-moving vehicles. They often dart into traffic.
- Deer often move in groups. If you see one, there are likely to be more in the vicinity.
- Drive with care when moving through deer-crossing zones, in areas known to have a large deer population and in areas where roads divide agricultural fields from forestland.
- Always wear your seatbelt.
- When driving at night, use high beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic. The high beams will better illuminate the eyes of any deer on or near the roadway.
- Be especially attentive from sunset to midnight and during the hours shortly before or after sunrise. These are the highest risk times for deer-vehicle collisions.
- Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path, but stay in your lane. Many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or lose control of their cars.
- Do not rely on devices such as deer whistles, deer fences and reflectors to deter deer. These devices have not proven effective.
If your vehicle collides with a deer or other animal, try to avoid going near or touching the animal, according to the III, and contact your insurance agent as quickly as possible to report any damage to your car.