In 2016, drivers in Missouri experienced 4,604 traffic crashes where deer-vehicle strikes occurred. One deer strike occurred every 1.9 hours in the state. In these crashes, there were six fatalities and 455 people were injured. (Missouri State Highway Patrol) Here's what you need to know . . .
The odds of hitting a deer with your vehicle this time of year just increased and costs for repairs are up, according to State Farm Insurance, in their 15th annual deer claim study. Using its claims data and state licensed driver counts from the Federal Highway Administration, State Farm calculates the chances of motorists striking a deer over the next 12 months.
“Missouri is a high risk state for deer collisions,” said Angie Foster, a State Farm agent in Rolla. “The 2017 statistics show you have a 1 of 112 chance of hitting a deer in Missouri.”
When asked if her agency reflects those odds, she said, “we handle quite a few deer collision claims.” “Recently we handled a claim involving a group of 17 deer.” “They hopped a bridge in fog and landed on my customer’s vehicle and boat. They hit the vehicle, some landed in and on the boat—needless to say, he turned around and didn’t go fishing. It was the end of his day.”
Time of year and human interaction are the main factor accidents go up in the fall. Last year, a RDN interview with Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) survey program supervisor, Barb Keller addressed the issue. Keller said in the southern portions of the state, the deer population has been slowly increasing over the past 10 years. Drivers may be more likely to hit deer for that reason; but she said it doesn’t tell the whole story.
“This time of year, we will see an increase in vehicle collisions. Some of that is due to deer behavior because we’re starting to get closer to deer breeding season, which for deer, peaks in mid-November. During this time of year, they are more likely to be moving across the landscape in search of mates. So, bucks in particular are on the move and will be chasing does around. Those deer will be more likely to dart across the road, where they might not normally, do that.”
She also referred to white-tail deer as crepuscular animals, meaning they are most active in twilight hours, either in early morning or evening.That could spell trouble for job commuters, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Throw in increasing deer numbers and the State Farm prediction of a higher risk chance of a deer collision isn’t far-fetched.
Foster says if you hit a deer, move your vehicle to a safe place. “If possible, get it off the road and turn on your hazard lights,” she recommended. “Call 911 if the deer is blocking traffic, to keep someone else from hitting it, to keep it from being a collision claim, versus a comprehensive claim.”
She says, however, the call to 911 won’t necessarily mean a first responder will come out, unless a party is injured.
She also suggests documenting the incident by taking photos and to stay away from the animal, in case it is only stunned from the accident. “A wounded deer can cause a lot of damage with their hooves.”
State Farm also says, “Don’t assume your vehicle is safe to drive. Double-check that your car is safe to drive. Look for leaking fluid, loose parts, tire damage, broken lights, a hood that won’t latch and other safety hazards. If your vehicle seems unsafe in any way, call for a tow.
Foster hasn’t really hit a deer personally, but she has “bumped one.”
“I’ll tell you this—my husband has hit quite a few—actually three at one time,” she shared. “It was the third accident with this one vehicle and I said, ‘that’s it!—this vehicle is getting sold!’”
She says to contact your insurance agent after an accident to report the damages.
“If you want to keep the animal, be sure you call the conservation agent,” she added.