40% of deer collisions occur October through December. You can reduce deer collisions within your organization by following these best practices.

deer crossing a street, 40 percent of deer collisions occur October through December

Each year there are approximately 1.8 million vehicle-animal collisions reported, primarily deer. The frequency of collisions rises sharply during the months of October, November and December with November having nearly three times the number as the average month.1 This time of year results in more accidents due to:

  1. The fall deer breeding season — deer are less focused on dangers and roam over greater areas.
  2. Deer hunting season — deer are pushed out of their normal protected areas.
  3. Harvesting of crops — deer are required to travel across more roadways to find food.

While severe injuries or death are infrequent in vehicle-deer collisions, vehicle damage can be extensive. In 2018 the average deer collision insurance claim was $3,172.1 Claim expense continues to rise as new technology is added to car front ends, such as high-tech headlights and collision avoidance systems. These features typically take longer to repair, keeping your vehicle off the road longer.

Organizations should consider the following best practices to limit deer collisions and their severity:

  • Driver awareness
    • Educate drivers about ways to prevent deer collisions.
    • Provide increased driver awareness prior to and during deer season: Oct. - Dec.
    • Share our Deer Collision Season Infographic with drivers as a training and awareness tool. It is great for posting in driver break rooms as well.
  • Don’t swerve for deer
    • 86% of single vehicle-deer collision fatalities involve the vehicle leaving the roadway and striking a fixed object or overturning.2
    • Drivers should not swerve suddenly when encountering deer. They should brake firmly, bringing the vehicle to a controlled stop in their lane of traffic.
  • Routing and time of day
    • Keep drivers on freeways or four-lane roads with large, cleared, right-of-way.
    • Most vehicle-deer collisions occur on two-lane roads, primarily rural, where visibility is limited.
    • If possible, restrict driving times to daylight hours. Most vehicle-deer collisions occur at dawn or dusk when deer are most active.
  • Seatbelts – Stress the importance of seatbelts. 60% of vehicle occupants killed in vehicle-animal collisions are unbelted.2
  • Following distance
    • Stress to drivers the importance of proper following distance; at least three seconds.
    • Adequate following distance:
      • Improves visibility to see deer earlier.
      • Allows more time to react to others suddenly braking for deer.
    • 19% of fatalities involve a second car crashing after a first vehicle strikes a deer.
  • Deer guards
    • Consider installing deer guards on medium or large trucks ($800-$2000).
    • Deer guards are aluminum/metal frames placed over the front end of a vehicle to limit damage to the vehicle from a deer collision.
    • Deer guards significantly limit damage and drivers are more likely to feel comfortable running over the deer as opposed to veering and rolling their truck.
    • Organizations should check with the vehicle manufacturer to ensure adding a deer guard will not conflict with any collision avoidance technology or void any warranties.
  • Collision avoidance systems
    • Vehicle collision avoidance systems are not designed to prevent animal collisions so drivers should not rely on them for that purpose.
    • Deer whistles and similar devices are generally not effective so drivers should not rely on them.

[1] Losses Due to Animal Strikes, Highway Loss Data Institute Volume 36, No. 4 May 2019
[2] Williams, A.F. and Wells, J.K. 2005. Characteristics of vehicle-animal crashes in which vehicle occupants are killed. Traffic Injury Prevention 6:56–59

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