According to claims information from Erie Insurance, one in every 100 drivers nationally is likely to have a collision with a deer. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that deer-vehicle crashes rack up $1.1 billion in property damages, tens of thousands of injuries and more than 200 deaths every year.
Erie Insurance has been trying to buck the trend of deer-vehicle collisions by warning the public about the hazard. The awareness campaign appears to be working. ERIE’s deer claim frequency declined for the fourth straight year and now stands at its lowest level in seven years. Erie saw a 9 percent decline in deer claims during the peak months of October through December.
Experts agree defensive driving is the best way to avoid crashes with animals.
“Keep your eyes on the road, doing a visual sweep for deer during October, November and December, when most deer collisions occur,” advised Jim Arciere, who heads ERIE’s claims division. “If you’re going 60 miles per hour, you can cover a lot of ground in just a few seconds — 30 yards per second or the length of a football field in the time it takes to change a CD or reach for your travel mug.”
Darrin Birtciel, a rate analyst at Erie, noted that some routes might make drivers more prone to chance meetings with crossing deer. “Everyone should be alert for deer, but those who have already had a deer claim should be especially alert,” he said. “There’s probably a good chance those drivers routinely travel on roads that are frequent crossing points for deer.”
Among the safety tips about deer Erie stresses:
•Deer aren’t 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 there’s one, there are likely more in the vicinity.
•Highest risk periods are from sunset to midnight and the hours shortly before and after sunrise.
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