Drivers Should Beware of Deer This Fall

Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman and Acting State Police Commissioner Lieutenant Colonel Robert Evanchick today reminded drivers this is the time of year drivers are most likely to be involved in a deer-related crash, noting total crashes, as well as those involving injuries and those resulting in fatalities, rose in 2017.

Figures compiled by State Farm Insurance show Pennsylvania drivers had a 1-in-63 chance of a deer-related crash from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018, the same as the prior 12 months, and the third-highest rate in the country. However, while State Farm reports the chance of hitting a deer dropped slightly for the nation last year, the number of crashes rose in Pennsylvania.

PennDOT reports the number of deer-related crashes rose from 5,468 in 2016 to 5,674 in 2017. Also, the number of fatalities rose from 13 to 17, and the number of injuries was up slightly, from 1,267 to 1,275. Fatal deer-related crashes occurred in 14 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties last year. However, there were no fatal deer-related crashes in Armstrong County.

“Fall is breeding season for deer, and they may be less aware of their surroundings,” Altman advised. “Deer also often travel in groups, so if you see one deer, there are often more nearby.”

November is the month when drivers are most likely to have a deer-related crash, according to insurance industry information. October and December are the second and third most likely months for these crashes. Dawn and dusk are the peak times for deer activity, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission. When daylight saving time ends November 4, more drivers will be traveling to and from work and school at these times of day.

“Deer-related crashes and other collisions can cause serious injury and thousands of dollars in property damage,” said Lieutenant Colonel Evanchick. “Drivers should slow down, buckle up, and never drive distracted to keep themselves and their passengers safe.”

In Pennsylvania, two types of crashes must be reported to the police: crashes that result in one or more vehicles being damaged to the point that they cannot be driven from the scene and collisions that result in injury or death. Minor crashes or fender benders that do not result in injury may be reported to the police, but it is not legally required. Drivers involved in all collisions are required to exchange license and insurance information with involved parties and render aid when necessary.

“Under Pennsylvania law, a crash involving a deer, other animal, or fowl is considered a not-at-fault accident, and insurers cannot add a surcharge to your premium for a deer-related crash,” Altman said, adding this exclusion does not apply if your car does not come in contact with the deer. “In addition, vehicle damage in these circumstances is handled under a driver’s comprehensive coverage.”

State Farm reports the average cost of a deer-related crash jumped 3.9 percent last year, rising from $4,179 to $4,341.

To report a dead deer for removal from state-maintained roads, motorists can call the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation at 1-800-FIX-ROAD.