|By: Ellen Bell|
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates there are approximately 1.5 million auto deer collisions per year, resulting in damage losses of around $1.5 billion USD, which works out to an average cost of $1,000 per accident. State Farm Insurance Agency also supports these statistics, and goes on to report that, in the year 2004, there were 150 human deaths in the United States that were directly linked to car deer accidents.
The bear is often considered to be one of the most dangerous animals in North America. As a combined group, polar bears, black bears, and grizzly bears are responsible for 5 to 10 human fatalities per year in North America. Comparing this statistic with the 150 human deaths caused in 2004 by auto deer collisions, one might come to the conclusion that the most dangerous animal in North America is, in fact, the White Tail Deer.
An insurance study conducted by State Farm Insurance in 2004 and 2005 indicates the ten states with the most deer hits per year are as follows:
Statistically, most car deer accidents occur between the months of October and December, which also coincides with the deer's mating season. It has also been noted that more accidents occur during the night, or anytime between dusk and dawn. This is attributed to the fact that deer are a very nocturnal animal and spend most of their time foraging at night.
With all this information, it's clear that drivers must take every possible precaution when driving. The following list reviews the top ten ways to keep yourself safe and minimize your chances of a car deer collision when driving:
1. When at all possible, avoid driving between dusk and dawn.
2. Try to avoid rural roads and poorly lit areas.
3. Be particularly vigilant when driving through areas with high foliage or low hanging branches on the roadside. If there are two people in the car, ask your passenger for help watching the sides of the road.
4. Reduce your speed, and don't overdrive your lights. The most common remark people make after they've been in a car deer collision is that the animal "came out of nowhere."
5. If you see one deer on the side of the road and you're fortunate enough not to hit it, be sure to slow down, because where there is one deer, there will often be others.
6. Always wear your seatbelt.
7. Use high beam headlights as much as possible to light the sides of the roadway.
8. Do not ride motorcycles in areas with high deer populations. Riding a motorcycles leaves you much more vulnerable to serious injury in an accident than does driving a car.
9. Finally, if a collision with a deer is eminent, brake and hold the wheel straight. Too often, drivers swerve trying to avoid the animal, and drive off the road or into the path of another car. These accidents can often be more serious than hitting the deer would have been.
10. If you do hit a deer, stay in your car until help arrives. If the deer is still alive, it may be stunned and could become very aggressive if aroused.
If you drive a great deal in the United States, especially in areas with high deer population, you are at risk of hitting a deer. However, with these guidelines in mind and a good dose of common sense, you can reduce that risk and keep yourself and your passengers safe.