Deer, Darkness and Distraction: A Dangerous Combination for Drivers
AAA is reminding all drivers that the chances of hitting a deer are much greater in November than any other month of the year. In fact, according to UConn Crash Data, last year there were more deer strikes in November than in October and December combined.
“Unfortunately, the height of deer mating season coincides with shorter, darker days which means drivers really need to look up, look out and limit distractions,” says AAA spokesperson Amy Parmenter. “Commuters in particular are at greater risk because the deer are most active during the morning and evening rush hours”.
(Mating deer are most active from 5-8am and 5-8pm).
A Steep Price
While hitting a deer could result in an expensive repair bill, AAA is reminding drivers that the outcome could be even worse.
Last year in Connecticut, one person was killed and more than 60 others injured as a result of deer-related crashes (UConn Crash Data).
AAA is reminding drivers that the best way to avoid serious injury is to wear a seat belt and ensure that passengers do as well. And, AAA is reminding motorcyclists to wear helmets so that a minor crash does not result in a major tragedy.
Paying for Repairs
Although most animal strikes are not reported, the DEEP estimates that there were about 3700 deer killed by drivers last year.
AAA Insurance is reminding drivers that not all policies cover animal strikes.
Collision coverage pays for damage to your car resulting from a collision with an object (e.g., another vehicle, telephone pole, guard rail or mailbox), or as a result of flipping over.
Comprehensive coverage is for damage to your car covered by disasters “other than collisions,” (in this case, contact/collision with animals) and are paid for under the comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy.
AAA offers the following tips to help prevent a crash or to reduce damage from an animal collision:
- 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.
- Don’t swerve. Don’t swerve, instead, brake hard and 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. If a crash is imminent take your foot off of the brake so the front of your vehicle can rise slightly. This helps lessen the chance of the animal rolling onto your hood and into your windshield.
- Always wear a seat belt. The chances of getting injured when hitting an animal are much higher if you don’t have your seat belt 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.
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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 57 million members nationwide and more than one million members in Connecticut. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.aaa.com.