By Sammi Cohen
According to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHSA), there are approximately 1.5 million deer-related car accidents annually, leading to 175 to 200 fatalities each year. Of course, this number pales in comparison to the number of human pedestrians killed in traffic accidents each year (4,700), but in certain areas of the country, deer collisions are a real threat.
Rochester is one of those areas. In fact, according to a study by the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Rochester is the number one location in New York state outside of New York City — and the number five location in the U.S. — for car collisions with deer. The study reveals that between 2014 and 2017, Rochestarians filed 1,929 insurance claims because of vehicle damage caused by animals, and 91% of those animals were deer. And these collisions seem to be growing more common each year; 507 of those insurance claims were filed in 2017 alone. Only New York City recorded more car-animal collision claims than Rochester in the state of New York. Below you’ll find the top 10 list:
- San Antonio, TX — 3,945
- Austin, TX — 2,452
- New York City, NY — 2,442
- Pittsburgh, PA — 2,115
- Rochester, NY — 1,929
- Baltimore, MD — 1,896
- Charlotte, NC — 1,816
- Kansas City, MO — 1,780
- Los Angeles, CA — 1,620
- Houston, TX — 1,613
For Rochester residents, this data shouldn’t come as a surprise. It’s painfully obvious as we make our daily commutes that deer collisions increase dramatically in October and peak in November, coinciding with the height of the deer mating season. And as the deer populations grow and urban environments encroach upon rural habitats, the animals become increasingly displaced. It’s projected that in the next 50 years, at least 17 million acres of forest land will be lost permanently to urbanization.
So, what can you do to avoid potentially fatal deer collisions? We’ve got a few tips:
Pay close attention during peak deer hours.
Deer are typically found roaming areas near the roads between sunset and midnight and during the hours just before and after sunrise. The low visibility during these times make driving especially dangerous. If possible, keep your high-beams on, and scan the grassy areas around the road for movement. Try to avoid driving during these hours if you suffer from visual impairment of any kind; the global population of people aged 60 and over is expected to double between 2015 and 2050, and driving at night becomes particularly risky as we age.
If you see one, keep an eye out for others.
It’s important to note that deer seldom roam alone. If you see one deer, practice caution in case others are following behind.
Do not swerve.
The leading cause of accidents from deer-related collisions are due to vehicles swerving to avoid hitting a deer. Swerving can drive vehicles into oncoming traffic, trees, and other objects, or could result in your car rolling over. Instead, slow down as much as possible, blow your horn in one long blast to scare the deer away, and if necessary, allow your car to strike the deer.
Deer-vehicle collisions can be highly dangerous and expensive. Even if an animal-car collision is covered under the comprehensive portion of your auto insurance, it’s always better to avoid a collision in the first place.
Tags: car accident, deer, Rochester, Rochester NY
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