Steer Clear of Deer: Avoid Animal Collisions
Animal collisions up 45 percent since 2013
DENVER (Nov. 5, 2018) – Oh, deer: Coloradans reported 6,858 wildlife collisions in 2016, a 45 percent increase over 2013, according to AAA Colorado analysis of Colorado Department of Transportation data sets. Nationwide, animal-vehicle collisions result in 150 human deaths, tens of thousands of injuries, and more than $1 billion in vehicle damages each year. In Colorado, per AAA Insurance data, the average resulting repair bill runs upward of $5,000.
"In many ways, Colorado's rising animal collision rate is the result of our record-setting growth," said AAA Colorado spokesman Skyler McKinley. "As urbanization continues to spread into what were once rural environments, people and their vehicles inevitably come into conflict with animals more and more often."
November is the single most dangerous month when it comes to animal collisions, and deer are involved in more collisions than any other animal. The end of daylight saving time puts commuters on the road after sundown, which is also when larger animals, such as deer and bears, are the most active.
While deer and other animals are unpredictable, motorists can take actions to prevent crashes and reduce the damage when a collision is inevitable.
Tips to Avoid an Animal Collision
- Keep your eyes moving back and forth. Continuously sweep your eyes across the road for signs of animals. While the most likely crash is caused by an animal darting in front of you, one might also run into the side of your car.
- Be especially attentive in early morning and evening. Many animals, especially deer, are the most active during prime commuting hours -- roughly 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- At night, use high beams when there's no oncoming traffic. Your brights can help you spot animals sooner. The light reflecting off their eyes may also 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 more nearby.
- Honk your horn with one long blast. A long blast on your horn may frighten large animals, such as deer, away from your vehicle. The Insurance Information Institute advises against relying on devices such as deer whistles and reflectors, which have not been proven to reduce collisions with animals.
- Use brakes if impact is imminent. If an animal is in your path, 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 objects on the side of the road.
- Always wear a seatbelt. Per the Insurance Information Institute, the chances of getting injured when hitting an animal are much higher if you don't have your seatbelt on.
- Don't go near a wounded animal. A frightened and wounded animal can be unpredictable. If it's in the middle of the road and blocking traffic, call the police or sheriff immediately.
- Consider purchasing comprehensive coverage, if you don't already have it as part of your insurance policy. Comprehensive insurance covers animal collisions, among other things.
About AAA Colorado
More than 685,000 members strong, AAA Colorado is the state's most-trusted advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services - as well as member-exclusive savings. For more information, visit AAA.com.