Deer-vehicle collisions surge during fall and winter -, GA News Weather & Sports

Deer-vehicle collisions surge during fall and winter


There’s an accident waiting to happen out there and there may be little you can do to avoid it.  Every year, it’s estimated that more than a million deer-vehicle collisions occur, some resulting in deaths to drivers. 

It can happen in a split second and in some cases you won’t see it coming at all.  That’s just what happened Wednesday night, February 7, 2018 on Highway 59 in Summerdale.  I was driving along a dark stretch of road just north of the Foley Beach Express when I felt a horrible jolt to the news car with a loud crash.  I never even saw it coming.

“He probably hit right in the front and just went right down the side of your car,” said owner of Bay City Collision Center, Garry Lively as he surveyed the damage.  “They usually do that when they hit the side of you.  They’ll take out the whole side of the car.”

I quickly learned that I’m not alone.  Lively said he gets 15 to 20 vehicles at his shop this time every year that have been involved in deer collisions.  By the time your car gets to the body shop, the shock of the accident has worn off, but then it’s time for the sticker shock.

“That’s four or five thousand dollars,” Lively estimated as he looked at my damaged bumper, fender and driver side door.  “This time of year…we see…we fix a lot of them this time of year.  The weather changes like it does, the deer are going to run a lot more.”

Without comprehensive coverage on your insurance plan, the repair will come out of your pocket.  According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), there are an estimated 1.5 million deer – vehicle collisions in the U.S. each year resulting in approximately $1 billion in vehicle damage.

Even scarier is the number of fatalities caused by vehicle-wildlife collisions.  The population of whitetail deer in the United States is estimated to be near 30 million, with the densest populations in rural areas.  IIHS statistics show the number of crash deaths over a recent 10-year period.  Between 2007 and 2016, 1,941 deaths were reported across the United States. Thirty three of them were in Alabama.

While these kind of accidents are rarely avoidable, there are some things you can do to make them less likely.  

“In the early morning hours, you want to slow down.  You don’t want to drive fast,” Lively suggested.  “That’s just a simple fact.  The slower you drive, the easier it is to avoid them.”

The majority of deadly dear-vehicle collisions happen in the fall and winter.  Not only do the temperatures turn colder and the days shorter, but deer are on the move more during mating season.

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