Vehicles and deer can be a lethal combination on Northwest roads. As the weather gets colder, deer and other wildlife migrate from the mountains and you face greater risk of collisions when they dart across roads and highways.
More deer-vehicle accidents occur between October and December than any other time of the year.
The Washington Department of Transportation reports that annually more than 1,100 wildlife-vehicle collisions are reported to the Washington State Patrol (WSP).
The collisions cause nearly 1,200 injuries and two fatalities each year. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates there are more than 1.6 million deer-vehicle collisions nationwide each year, resulting in 150 occupant deaths, tens of thousands of injuries and over $3.6 billion in vehicle damage.
The average deer-vehicle auto claim involving bodily injury is about $11,000, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
"Deer-vehicle collisions can cause significant damage to vehicles and serious injury to drivers and passengers," said Karl Newman, NW Insurance Council president. "Using caution and staying alert can save your life and eliminate the need for costly vehicle repairs."
If you have optional Comprehensive Coverage, your Auto Insurance policy will pay for damage to your vehicle, less the deductible, if you hit a deer or any other animal. NW Insurance Council offers the following defensive driving tips to help you avoid deer while on the road:
- Be attentive from sunset to midnight and hours before and after sunrise. These are the highest-risk periods for deer-vehicle collisions.
- Drive with caution 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.
- Deer seldom run alone. If you see one deer, others may be nearby.
- When driving at night, use high beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic.
- Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path and 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.
If you have questions about coverage, contact your insurance agent or company.For more information, call the NW Insurance Council at (800) 664-4942.