In Ohio, Deer-Related Crashes Fall for Third Straight Year

Deer in Ohio may be having a good time—but that’s bad news for drivers.

The approach of mating season, which runs from October through January, is spurring state officials to issue their annual warnings about deer-related collisions.

Even though the number of such collisions in 2011 was down 2.2 percent from 2010, there were three more fatalities last year than in 2010, according to the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS). It is the third straight year of lower deer-related collisions.

There were 22,690 such crashes in Ohio in 2011, with almost all of them (21,781) including some form of property damage.

Of the 902 injury-related crashes caused by deer, most (479) occurred at night on roads that weren’t lit.

Insurance Implications of Deer Encounters

Crashing into a deer usually means pricey repairs, with the Insurance Information Institute (III) estimating that vehicle damage from deer-related collisions averages about $3,100 per claim nationwide.

Policyholders with deer-related insurance claims are covered by the “comprehensive” portion of their insurance policy, if they have purchased this optional form of coverage. Insurance companies typically don’t consider a deer-related collision as an incident that can inflate future premiums, according to the Ohio Insurance Institute (OII), so the state’s drivers shouldn’t expect to see their Ohio car coverage rates inflated because they are usually not deemed at-fault for such crashes.

The OII estimated that the 22,690 deer-related crashes in 2011 involving 22,906 vehicles could have cost insurers about $70 million. But that estimate assumes that all of those cars were insured with comprehensive coverage.

Motorists without comprehensive insurance coverage will have to pay for their own post-crash repairs.

Month, Time of Day Matter in Deer Encounters

While motorists should always be aware of deer on the road, the chance of such encounters is much more likely in November, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute, which found in a 2009 study that animal-related claims were almost two times higher during that month than in other months.

The Ohio data appear to back up that trend.

There were 5,473 Ohio deer-related crashes in November 2011, the most of any month that year, according to the ODPS. October registered the second-highest number of such crashes with 3,163. The average month had about 1,890 such collisions.

Also, two of the seven roadway fatalities linked to deer in Ohio in 2011 occurred in November.

More than half of collisions with deer happen between 5 p.m. and 1 a.m., according to the ODPS, with 22 percent occurring between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m.

Of the seven deer-related deaths in 2011, three occurred during daylight, two at dusk and two during nighttime on an unlit roadway, according to the ODPS.

Ohioans Have Relatively High Likelihood of Getting in Deer Collision

From 2010-11, there was an almost 1-in-132 chance in Ohio of crashing into a deer, giving the state the 15th-highest likelihood of such crashes, according to an annual report on deer-related claims data from State Farm. The state ranked similarly from 2009-10.

Drivers in West Virginia are the likeliest to crash into a deer, with almost a 1-in-53 chance. At the other end of the spectrum, motorists can breathe easy in Hawaii, where there’s a 1-in-1,066 chance of striking a deer that puts the state at the bottom of the rankings.

Officials Give Tips

The OII offers the following tips to avoid costly, and possibly injurious, encounters with deer:

—In areas with deer-crossing signs, drive cautiously (at or below the posted speed limit).
—If you see one deer on or near a roadway, expect others to follow. Slow down and be alert.
—After dark, use high beams when there is no opposing traffic.
—Always wear a seat belt.
—Keep control of your vehicle during oncoming deer collisions; don’t swerve to avoid striking it. Brake firmly and stay in your lane. The alternative could be even worse.
—Report any deer-vehicle collisions to a local law enforcement agency or a state wildlife officer within 24 hours.

About Charles Nguyen
Charles Nguyen is an enterprising journalist who reported for and the Desert Dispatch and was the editor in chief of the Guardian (the twice-weekly newspaper at the University of California, San Diego) before coming to Online Auto Insurance News.

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