Public Relations Manager, DE
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Director, Public and Government Affairs, DE
AAA Mid-Atlantic: Deer in Your Headlights?
Auto club offers safety tips on avoiding animal-vehicle collisions
WILMINGTON, DE (September 28, 2017) – Fall is officially here and AAA Mid-Atlantic is warning drivers to be more cautious on the roads. Deer mating season is right around the corner and October, November and December are the worst months of the year for motor vehicle collisions with animals. A collision with a deer or other animal can put a serious dent in your vehicle, if not destroy it completely, and could result in serious injuries or fatalities. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in 2015, there were 186 fatalities from collisions with animals.
“Animal-vehicle collisions start to increase in October and peak in mid-November,” said Ken Grant, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “As the deer population grows and urbanization spreads into formerly rural areas, motorists need to be even more cautious and alert behind the wheel, especially at dawn and dusk, which can be times high of deer activity.”
According to Delaware State Police, there were 1,668 deer crashes investigated in Delaware in 2016, compared to 1,791 in 2015 – 524 in New Castle County, 391 in Kent County and 876 in Sussex County.
“Deer typically cross between areas of cover, such as woods or where roads divide agricultural fields from woods,” says Delaware State Police Master Corporal Gary Fournier. “If you hit a deer, stop at the scene, get your car off the road if possible and call police.”
Contact your insurance agent or company representative as quickly as possible to report any damage to your car. Collision with a deer or other animals is covered under the comprehensive portion of your automobile policy.
“Deer and other animals are unpredictable and you never know when they might dash out in front of your vehicle. But there are actions you can take to help prevent an accident or reduce the damage from an animal collision,” noted Grant. “First and foremost, always protect yourself by wearing a seat belt and removing all distractions behind the wheel.”
AAA Mid-Atlantic has some tips to help prevent an accident or to reduce damage from an animal collision:
Pay attention to road signs. Yellow, diamond-shaped signs with an image of a deer indicate areas with high levels of deer activity.
Keep your eyes moving back and forth. Continuously sweep your eyes across the road in front of you for signs of animals and movement. Animals may also be alongside the road, so make sure to look to the right and left, as well. While the most likely accident is you hitting an animal, on occasion they might also hit you by running into the side of your car.
Be especially attentive in early morning and evening hours. Many animals, especially deer, are most active from 5-8 a.m. and 5-8 p.m. – prime commuting times for many people.
Use high beams when there’s no oncoming traffic. You can spot animals sooner. Sometimes the light reflecting off their eyes will reveal their location.
Slow down, and watch for other deer to appear. Deer rarely travel alone, so if you see one, there are likely to be more nearby.
Slow down around curves. It’s harder to spot animals down the road when going around curves.
One long blast. A long blast on your horn may frighten animals away from your vehicle.
Use brakes if an impact is imminent. Don’t swerve. Instead, stay in your lane. Swerving away from animals can confuse them so they don’t know which way to run. It can also put you in the path of oncoming vehicles or cause you to crash into something like a lamppost or a tree.
Always wear a seatbelt. The chances of getting injured when hitting an animal are much higher if you don’t have your seatbelt on. Also never drive drunk, distracted or drowsy.
Consider purchasing comprehensive insurance, if you don’t already have it. Comprehensive insurance is the type of insurance that covers animal strikes.
AAA has posted a helpful “Fall Driving” video at aaa.com/TV. If you have questions or are concerned about gaps in your existing coverage, please contact a local insurance agent at 866-AAA-4YOU, or aaa.com/insurance.
Auto Insurance Note: Collision coverage pays for damage to your car resulting from a collision with an object (e.g., a telephone pole, a guard rail, a mailbox, an animal), or as a result of flipping over. Comprehensive coverage is for damage to your car covered by disasters “other than collisions,” contacts (in this case, contact/collision with animals) and are paid for under the comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy.