Be on guard: Deer-vehicle collisions can happen at any time of the year

Published 10:50 pm Tuesday, January 2, 2024

WAPT reported today that a young woman died Tuesday after a deer crashed through a car windshield on a Mississippi highway.

“According to the Mississippi Highway Patrol, the accident happened on US-61 South near Old Colony Road in Claiborne County Tuesday morning. It was there that a Chevrolet Cavalier hit a deer,” the news channel reported. “After being hit by the Chevrolet, the deer then hit a Nissan Maxima, entering through the vehicle’s windshield. A passenger in the Maxima, Amanda Taylor, 23, of Jackson was killed in the incident.”

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that “from 1975 to the mid-2000s, there was a general upward trend in deaths from collisions with animals. However, this trend has leveled off in the past few years. There were 164 deaths from collisions with animals in 2021, occurring most often during October-December.”

Email newsletter signup

The following statistics, based on analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), shows that in Mississippi, the numbers of motor vehicle crash deaths resulting from collisions with animals are as follows:

2012: 1
2013: 1
2014: 3
2015: 5
2016: 3
2017: 4
2018: 2
2019: 3
2020: 2
2021: 1

State Farm reported that U.S. drivers had an estimated 1.8 million animal collision insurance claims in the U.S. between July 2022 and June 2023, down from 1.9 million from the same period a year ago. Pennsylvania had the highest estimated number of auto claims (153,397), but West Virginia had the highest likelihood of hitting an animal. While the types of animals involved in collisions are diverse, deer are the top animal struck.

The following tips may help you avoided a collision with a deer:

  • Slow down, especially if you see an animal close to the road.
  • Stay alert. Scan the road for animals day and night, both in the countryside and in the city, and pay attention to “deer crossing” and other animal signs.
  • Reduce distractions. Put the cell phone away. It can help you avoid injuring motorcyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians and animals, too.
  • Brake as necessary. If you can avoid hitting the animal, reduce your speed, honk your horn and tap your brakes to warn other drivers.
  • Don’t swerve. If a crash with an animal is inevitable, maintain control of your vehicle and don’t veer off the road.
  • Use high beams. Flicking your high beams on a deer may cause the animal to scurry away.
  • Be aware of peak season. Deer crashes happen most often during October through December, which is hunting and mating season.
  • Be mindful of meal time. Watch for animals on the road between dusk and dawn.
  • Watch for herds. If you see one deer, there are probably more nearby.
  • Speak with your insurance agent about comprehensive coverage, which typically covers repairs for collisions with animals, after your deductible.