Vehicles and deer can be a lethal combination on Washington roads. As the weather gets colder, drivers face a greater risk of collisions as deer and other wildlife migrate from the mountains and dart across roads and highways.
More deer-vehicle accidents occur between October and December than any other time of the year. According to the Washington Department of Transportation, more than 1,100 wildlife/vehicle collisions are reported to the Washington State Patrol every year, resulting in nearly 1,200 injuries.
The Insurance Information Institute estimates there are 1.6 million deer-vehicle collisions nationwide each year, resulting in approximately 200 occupant deaths, tens of thousands of injuries and more than $3.6 billion in vehicle damage. The average deer-vehicle auto claim is $3,100.
“Deer-vehicle collisions can cause significant damage to vehicles and serious injury to drivers and passengers,” said Karl Newman, NW Insurance Council president. “Using caution and staying alert can save your life and eliminate the need for costly vehicle repairs.”
The NW Insurance Council offers the following defensive driving tips to help you avoid deer while on the road:
• Be attentive from sunset to midnight and the hours just before and after sunrise. These are the highest-risk periods for deer-vehicle collisions.
• Drive with caution when moving through deer-crossing zones, in areas known to have a large deer population and in areas where roads divide agricultural fields from forestland.
• Deer seldom run alone. If you see one deer, others are close.
• When driving at night, use high-beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic
• Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path and stay in your lane. Many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or lose control of their car.
If you have questions about coverage, contact your insurance agent or company. For more information, call the NW Insurance Council at 800/664-4942 or visit www.nwinsurance.org.