Don't Let an Animal Damage Your Day

AAA Mid States

When it comes to destruction, don’t ignore the ability of animals to put a serious dent in your vehicle, if not destroy it completely.

In fact, according to the Insurance Information Institute, Pennsylvanians have a one in 51 chance of experiencing an animal collision, primarily with deer. Between July 2019 and June 2020, there were over 1.9 million animal collision claims in the U.S.

Animal collisions result in nearly 200 human fatalities per year. Accidents are especially prevalent during fall, with the most animal-vehicle collisions happening in November, the height of the deer mating season. Additionally, as the days get shorter, drivers are more likely to be on the road at dawn and dusk, which are times of high animal activity.

Deer and other animals are unpredictable, and you never know when one might dash in front of your vehicle. However, there are actions you can take to help prevent an accident or to reduce the damage an animal might cause.

Tips to Avoid an Animal Crash and to Lessen the Impact if One Occurs

  • Keep your eyes moving. Continually sweep your eyes across the road in front of you for signs of animals and movement. Animals may also be alongside the road. While the most likely accident is you hitting an animal, on occasion, they might hit you by running into the side of your car.
  • Be especially attentive in the early morning and evening. Many animals, especially deer, are most active during these times, roughly 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., which include prime commuting times for most 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 one or several more.
  • Slow down around curves. Animals are harder to see in advance when going around curves.
  • One long blast. A long blast on your horn may frighten large animals, like deer, 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 on the side of the road like a light post 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.
  • Don’t go near or touch a wounded animal. A frightened and wounded animal can be unpredictable and cause injury. If it’s in the middle of the road and blocking traffic, call the police immediately.

Animal collisions are covered under the comprehensive portion of most insurance auto policies. Check with your insurance agent to make sure your auto policy covers animal collisions.