Despite the faltering Green Bay Packers, Cheeseheads can still rejoice since this weekend is the opening of white-tailed deer hunting season in Wisconsin. And with it comes increased risk of a deer-vehicle collision.
According to State Farm Insurance, the odds of having an accident claim involving a deer, elk or moose are 1 out of 169, the same as in 2014. For the ninth straight year, West Virginia tops the list of states where such accidents are likely at 1 in 44. Hawaii, also for the ninth straight year, rounds out the bottom of the list for such accidents at 1 in 8,765. Check here to see where your state ranks.
Deer-vehicle accidents spike during the mating season (October through December) when deer are most active. However, accidents also go up in spring when young deer begin to move around on their own.
Deer-vehicle accidents can be serious. According to State Farm, an estimated 1.23 million deer collisions occurred in the U.S. between July 2011 and June 2012, causing more than $4 billion in vehicle damage. In 2013 alone State Farm reported that deer collisions resulted in 191 fatalities.
Here are a few tips to help you avoid a dangerous and expensive collision with Odocoileus virginianus or related species.
- Be especially alert around dusk and dawn. That’s when deer are most active.
- Use your high beams as much as possible and scan the roadside for any sudden movements.
- On a multi-lane road, consider moving to the left lane if you won’t impede traffic (one of our few exceptions to Lane Courtesy). This creates a “buffer zone” on each side giving you more time to react should a deer pop out.
- Don’t rely on deer whistles. They don’t work.
- Deer travel in herds. When one crosses the road, look for more to follow.
- If a collision is inevitable, stomp on the brakes but try to stay in your lane. Swerving increases the risk of colliding with an oncoming vehicle or a roadside obstruction.
- Pay attention to deer crossing signs. That’s where the deer cross. And no, you can’t relocate a deer crossing simply by moving the sign, as some suggest.
- Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable in a deer collision. Be safe.