Tips, Tricks & Trends

How to Avoid Hitting a Deer With Your Car This Fall

It’s officially deer season. And whether you find yourself living in a rural area or are simply hitting the road to take in a view of the autumnal leaves, it’s more important than ever to be on the lookout for deer. Insurance claims for collisions involving animals rise significantly in the fall, and according to Consumer Reports, people make the most claims in November. Fortunately, we’ve got a few tips on how to avoid hitting a deer with your car this fall.

These are the top states for deer collisions

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Depending on what state you live in, you may be more likely to run into a deer while behind the wheel. According to State Farm, those living in West Virginia have a 1 in 37 chance of hitting a deer. Following closely behind is Montana, where drivers have a 1 in 47 chance of hitting a deer. In Pennsylvania, State Farm reports that drivers have a 1 in 51 chance of hitting a deer.

Those weren’t the only states included on State Farm’s list either. South Dakota (1 in 53), Michigan (1 in 54), Wisconsin (1 in 57), and Iowa (1 in 58) were also included in the list, as were Mississippi (1 in 59), Minnesota (1 in 64), and Wyoming (1 in 64).

Safety features that can help you avoid hitting a deer

According to Consumer Reports’ analysis, 61% of new cars are equipped with confidence-inspiring safety features like automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Unfortunately, however, not all safety systems are capable of detecting large animals.

As Matt Moore, senior vice president of the Highway Data Loss Institute (HLDI), explained to Consumer Reports, “Adapting pedestrian crash prevention systems to detect animals as well as people in the roadway could help avoid many of these collisions.” 

Some automakers do offer large animal detection as an integrated safety feature. One of them? Volvo. The automaker’s large animal detection feature, which is part of its City Safety system, is designed to warn drivers about large animals and, in certain instances, will even provide brake assistance. 

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This is how much hitting a deer could cost you

Car accidents can be costly. The same goes for if you have an unfortunate run-in with a deer. According to State Farm, there have been an estimated 2 million animal collision claims filed in the last year. The HDLI reports that insurance claims related to deer rise dramatically in the fall too, and typically peak in November.

But, in the end, how much will hitting a deer cost you? The HLDI says that the average cost of November animal-strike claims between 2006 and 2019 rang in at $3,685 per claim. Compare that to February, which reportedly has the least severe crashes, and claims cost drivers an average of $2,890.

Does car insurance cover hitting a deer?

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This depends on who your car insurance is with and what your coverage looks like. According to Allstate, comprehensive coverage typically covers deer accidents and may even help pay to repair or replace your car if it’s been damaged. However, Allstate added that drivers who opt for their state’s minimum required insurance coverage likely won’t be covered by their insurance if they’ve hit a deer.

Heed these tips to avoid hitting a deer this November

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November is the peak mating season for deer. During that time, deer are most active at dawn and between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. It’s especially important to slow down, watch for deer during these times, and turn on your high beams for increased visibility. Because deer often return to the same spots, it’s also important to take mental notes of where you see deer, particularly if you travel the same roads daily.

And if you do see a deer? Brake, but don’t swerve. While serving may seem like the natural response, swerving to avoid an animal can put you at risk of hitting another car or losing control of your vehicle. Swerving can also confuse the deer, making it that much harder to avoid. As Consumer Reports put it, “Your odds for surviving an accident are better when hitting an animal than when hitting another car.”

Always remember to wear your seatbelt too. While that might seem like common sense, a study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that 60% of people killed in animal-vehicle accidents weren’t wearing their seatbelt.