Madison,
12
October
2016

Avoid car-deer collisions with defensive driving habits

Summary

American Family customers in the company’s 19 operating states submitted 30,023 claims for animal-vehicle crashes during 2015.

This time of year, motorists in many states are more likely to encounter deer on streets and highways. Hundreds of thousands of animal-vehicle crashes occur each year, the majority with deer. This results in millions of dollars of damages, injuries and in some cases, even death.

Sometimes these accidents are unavoidable, particularly during the fall and early winter months when deer are active and breeding. Attentive drivers can take several simple precautions to reduce the likelihood of these encounters resulting in a traffic accident.

American Family customers in the company’s 19 operating states submitted 30,023 claims for animal-vehicle crashes during 2015, totaling $95,165,788, with the average claim costing $3,279. Wisconsin ($28,986,443), Missouri ($16,880,599) and Minnesota ($14,978,087) reported the highest numbers (see chart below for statistics on the top 12 states among the 19 states in which American Family operates).

Here are some defensive driving tips to help avoid deer-vehicle accidents:

  • Fasten your seatbelt. It’s simple common sense and the best defense in the event a crash is unavoidable.
  • Pay attention to deer-crossing signs.
  • Be especially alert at dawn and dusk. These are the times deer are most active.
  • If you see one deer, expect more to follow. Deer typically travel in single file.
  • If you see a deer on the road, brake firmly and blow your horn.
  • If a crash is unavoidable, don’t swerve! Studies show the most serious crashes occur when motorists swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or object, or roll over.

One preventative measure you might hear about is the use of deer whistles. Deer whistles produce ultrasonic noise when the vehicle they are attached to exceeds 30 mph. The idea is the deer will be warned upon hearing the noise. It’s unclear whether deer hear the noise, but regardless, studies show the whistles have no effect on deer behavior, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

If you do strike a deer, contact the authorities. You may be legally required to report an accident with significant vehicle damage, depending on state laws. Also contact your insurance company to report your claim. Collision with an animal is covered under the comprehensive section of your auto insurance policy. Since comprehensive coverage is optional, be sure to check your auto insurance policy for specific coverages.

American Family Insurance claims for animal hits for Jan. 1 – Dec. 31, 2015*

Ranked by number of claims

State

Number of Claims

Cost of Claims

Wisconsin

9,400

$28,986,443

Missouri

5,598

$16,880,599

Minnesota

4,679

$14,978,087

Kansas

2,084

$7,223,810

Iowa

1,789

$5,769,363

Illinois

1,579

$5,040,394

Indiana

1,096

$3,466,067

Ohio

1,009

$3,146,466

South Dakota

824

$2,693,139

Colorado

726

$2,850,230

Nebraska

718

$2,338,729

North Dakota

521

$1,792,457

Average cost per claim $3,279 (for top 12 states)

*Top 12 states

About American Family Insurance

Madison, Wis. - based American Family Insurance is the nation's 13th-largest property/casualty insurance group and ranks 332nd on the Fortune 500 list. The company sells American Family-brand products, including auto, homeowners, life, business and farm/ranch insurance, through its exclusive agents in 19 states. American Family affiliates (The General, Homesite and AssureStart) also provide options for consumers who want to manage their insurance matters directly over the Internet or by phone. Web www.amfam.com; Facebook www.facebook.com/amfam; Twitter www.twitter.com/amfam; Google+ plus.google.com/+amfam/.

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