Ohio heads into peak time for deer-related crashes


COLUMBUS – AAA, The Ohio Department of Insurance, Ohio State Highway Patrol and Ohio Department of Natural Resources want to remind motorists of the increase in deer-related traffic crashes this time of year.

Since 2016, statistics from the Ohio State Highway Patrol show there were 100,672 deer-related crashes on Ohio’s roadways. While 95% of deer-related crashes only resulted in property damage, 27 crashes resulted in fatal injuries to motorists, with 28 killed. Additionally, nearly half (47%) of these crashes occurred in October, November, and December.

“As we enter the peak season for car-deer collisions in Ohio, I encourage drivers to use extra caution and slow down, especially at dawn or dusk when deer are more active,” said Governor DeWine. “A crash with a deer can be just as destructive as a crash with another vehicle, so it’s important that drivers remember to stay alert and watch out for animals crossing the road.”

Some of the top counties for deer-related crashes include Stark, Richland, Lorain, Trumbull and Hancock with I-71, US-30 and I-80 being the leading roadways in the state.

“Always avoid distractions and keep your full focus on the roadway,” said Colonel Richard Fambro of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. “If you see a deer slow down, but do not swerve. If you strike a deer, move to a safe place if you are able, turn on your hazard lights, and report the crash.”

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), deer become visibly active from late October through November. This is due in large part to the fall breeding season. While males pursue prospective mates throughout the season, they often encounter females that are not yet willing to breed, which can result in pursuits where deer will dart into roadways with little caution. This unpredictable movement leads to an increase in deer-related vehicle crashes. Drivers are encouraged to be extra cautious in areas where fencerows, riparian corridors, or other blocks of forested habitat intersect a roadway.

“As motorists have likely noticed, deer are very visible and active in the fall,” ODNR wildlife Chief Kendra Wecker said. “If you see one deer, be on the lookout for others nearby. Deer rarely run alone.”

Cost of Deer-Vehicle Collisions:

Colliding with a deer is not only dangerous, it’s also increasingly costly. Recent data estimates the average insurance claim for a deer-vehicle collision in Ohio is more than $4,000. Vehicle sensors found on newer vehicles continue to increase repair costs. In fact, AAA found these new safety systems can double repair bills for minor collisions. The included graphic depicts the estimated repair costs for various vehicle sensors (more information at Newsroom.AAA.com). Without adequate insurance, drivers are left footing this bill. Which is why it’s important to make sure you’re covered before a crash occurs.

“In the event of an accident, it’s important to have adequate insurance for financial protection,” Ohio Department of Insurance Director Judith L. French said. “Now is the time for Ohioans to contact their insurance agents to complete an insurance review.”

AAA and the Ohio Department of Insurance remind drivers that the optional comprehensive coverage (also known as “other than collision” coverage) portion of an auto insurance policy often is used to pay for deer-vehicle damage repair. Collision or liability-only policies do not cover the damage. With the vast number of costly deer collisions on Ohio’s roads, it is often a good idea to evaluate maintaining comprehensive coverage, even with older vehicles.

“Although deer and other animals are unpredictable, there are actions you can take to help prevent a crash or reduce the damage from a collision,” said Ed Conley, director, insurance operations for AAA Ohio Auto Club.

How to avoid animal collisions:

• Scan the road ahead: Looking ahead helps provide enough reaction time if an animal is spotted. Also, remember some animals, like deer, move in groups, so when there is one, there are usually more in the area.

• Use high beam headlights if there is no oncoming traffic: This can help you spot deer or other wildlife more quickly and give you time to slow down, move over or honk the horn to scare the animal away. High beams also help in spotting animals’ reflective eyes.

• Be extra cautious at dawn and dusk: Deer tend to be more active in the early morning and at dusk. That’s why these are peak times for deer-vehicle collisions.

• If a collision is unavoidable, apply the brakes firmly and remain in your lane: Swerving to avoid an animal can often cause a more serious crash or cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Drivers who swerve to miss a deer and hit something else may be charged for an at-fault crash.

• Always wear a seatbelt and remain awake, alert, and sober: The chances of getting injured when hitting an animal are much higher if you don’t have your seatbelt on. If you’re distracted or drowsy, you’re not properly scanning the road for deer and could end up spotting them too late.

What to do if you hit a deer:

•Following the collision, call the police.

• Avoid making contact with the deer/animal. A frightened and wounded animal can be dangerous and pose a threat when approached or might further injure itself.

• Activate the vehicle’s hazard lights whether it’s light or dark outside.

• If possible, move the vehicle to a safe location out of the roadway, and wait for help to arrive.

• Drivers should contact their insurance agent or company representative as quickly as possible to report any vehicle damage.

Ohioans with insurance questions can reach out to the Ohio Department of Insurance at 800-686-1526 or via www.insurance.ohio.gov. The website also contains wide-ranging educational insurance information.

AAA provides more than 62 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited online at AAA.com.

As always, motorists are also reminded they can dial #677 from their mobile device to be connected to the nearest Ohio State Highway Patrol Post.