Log In

Reset Password

Encounter with buck could cost you dough

Unless you have been very lucky, you as a driver probably have had either a major or close encounter with a deer during your time on the road. Odds are pretty good that if you haven’t had the misfortune of hitting one, a family member or friend has. If you are in this minority, congratulations, and keep up the good work.

During my 66 years of driving, I have had four near-misses (maybe they should be called near-hits) and one direct hit. The splat occurred on the two-lane highway between Summit Hill and Jim Thorpe, not far from the St. Joseph’s Cemetery, when I was a teenager. Luckily, I was not hurt, but it made me a lifelong “watch out for Bambi and her mom” driver.

Living in an area such as ours where there are lots of woods and trees, the scene is set for some pretty nasty deer interactions during the rutting season. Bucks and does have other things on their mind at this time of year, and motor vehicles are not top of mind awareness.

Every year in the United States there are about 1.25 million motor vehicle collisions involving deer.

As a result, about 200 people are killed and about 10,000 are injured annually from these accidents. Compare that to the three who die in North America, on average, from bear attacks.

This is probably the most dangerous time of the year for motorists when it comes to encounters with deer. Safety experts say the most concerning time is November.

Hitting a deer can cost you quite a few bucks. According to statistics compiled by the Allstate Insurance Co., there were nearly 2 million claims for animal collisions in 2019, fewer last year but the final numbers have still not been compiled. The number of incidents are expected to rise again in 2021 because of increased and more aggressive driving.

The average cost to repair a vehicle that collides with a deer is between $4,000 and $5,000. Deer usually take out the hood, grille, air conditioning condenser, radiator, fan assembly and front inner structure components. With more modern cars, repair shops have had to replace sensors, cameras and other high-tech safety features.

We in Pennsylvania remain in the top three for being most likely to experience these chance encounters. Allstate said that those of us in the Keystone State have a 51 to 1 chance of hitting a deer. We follow only West Virginia, with a 36 to 1 chance, and Montana, with a 47 to 1 chance. Overall, a U.S. driver has a 116 to 1 chance of hitting a deer. The least likely place to hit an animal is Hawaii, where your chances are 642-1. Other least likely states are Arizona and California.

If you’re smart, you will pay attention to the signs that have a picture of a deer on them. These indicate that deer have been sighted in the area. Many people ignore these signs, but I don’t, and I urge you not to either. When I see them, I am on high alert, especially between 6 and 9 p.m. I also always drive with my lights on at this time of year.

Aside from that, if you see a deer, slow down. Deer roam in small groups and herds, so if you see one, there are usually more nearby. This is especially true when one dashes across the highway in front of your vehicle. Chances are even more are right behind it. I once counted 17 deer crossing in front of me at one time. It felt as if I were watching a freight train pass.

You will instinctively want to swerve. Don’t do it. I know it’s difficult not to swerve out of the way, but Allstate reports that you can cause much more damage.

Cars and SUVs aren’t the only vehicles which collide with deer and other animals. Motorcycles do, too, and one of these accidents is much more likely to cause serious injury, even death. According to Allstate, 70% of deer crash fatalities involve motorcycles.

If you do hit a deer, pull over and call 911, especially if someone is injured. Don’t approach the animal that has been hit. It may look dead, but it could kick you. If there’s no immediate danger, take photos of the damage for insurance, Allstate advises.

By Bruce Frassinelli | tneditor@tnonline.com

The foregoing opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editorial Board or Times News LLC.