“It came out of nowhere!” That’s what a friend said after he hit a deer as he drove to our house last year. The impact tore off his grill and front bumper; who knows if the animal survived. My friend was lucky; he was shaken up after the accident but unhurt. Little did he know that he was one of hundreds of thousands who have an unfortunate meeting with deer every year.
Deer-vehicle collisions can happen any time of year but fall is particularly bad. Crashes with them spike October through December as they seek new habitats to breed and forage for food.
Be especially careful if you live in a rural area or one that is near deer habitat; the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates more than 1.5 million deer collisions take place every year in the U.S., causing over $1 billion in vehicle damage. The top five states for deer-auto crashes are:
- West Virginia
- South Dakota
These are things you can do to reduce your risk of hitting deer or other wildlife while driving:
- Don’t drive distracted
- Slow down
- Use high beams at night when there is no oncoming traffic
- Stay especially alert at dusk and dawn when deer tend to be most active
- Watch for road signs warning about wildlife
- Honk your horn to scare any deer you encounter off the road
- Break firmly and don’t swerve
If all these fail and you collide with a deer:
- Attempt to move your vehicle to the side of the road and use your hazard lights
- Call local law enforcement or the state patrol
- Don’t attempt to move injured animals
- Take photos of the animal, the damage to your vehicle, and the roadway where the crash occurred
- Contact your insurance company as soon as possible
Damage from striking deer and other wildlife is one of the things comprehensive auto insurance coverage helps pay for. Make sure you have adequate protection if you encounter a deer, contact a California Casualty advisor today for a free policy comparison and review at 1.800.800.9410, or visit www.calcas.com.
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