STATE – No matter how mild the temperatures are right now, New Jersey deer still know it’s the fall season, roaming the woods and crossing highways during mating season. And they are crossing motorists’ paths a lot more often, according to AAA Insurance, which is reporting deer crash claims have increased 37.4 percent over the past three years.
According to the North Jersey Deer Crash Coalition, every year there are approximately 15,000 deer vehicle crashes in the state and those certainly have a cost. AAA Insurance reports the average amount of a New Jersey claim is about $2,160 for crashes where an animal was struck by a vehicle. The vast majority (95%) of animal crash claims are for deer strikes.
AAA cautions motorists to be watchful; deer mating season is October through December. Frisky white-tailed deer will dart right out into moving traffic and could head right into the path of your vehicle, AAA Mid-Atlantic says. That means you need to keep a watchful eye for deer at dusk and dawn when they are most amorous.
“Motorists need to be extra vigilant no matter what road they travel, but especially those on rural, wooded roads and during commuting times which coincides with high times of deer activity. If a deer-vehicle collision is unavoidable, don’t swerve out of your lane or lose control of your vehicle.” said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Also protect yourself by always wearing a seat belt and staying alert and sober.”
The Insurance Information Institute (III) estimates that approximately 1.6 million deer-motor vehicle crashes occur each year on roads across the nation, resulting in about 200 fatalities, tens of thousands of injuries and over $3.6 billion in vehicle damage.
Here are the top counties in New Jersey in which an AAA Insurance claim was filed for an animal struck by a vehicle:
New Jersey (20 counties total where AAA had claims)
AAA Tips for Drivers during Deer Mating Season
Be observant. Look for deer-crossing signs indicating areas where deer frequently travel. Deer are creatures of habit and may often use the same path again.
- Be alert. A deer standing near a roadside may suddenly run across the road. Slow down and use your horn to scare the deer. Use high-beams for greater visibility.
- Look for groups. Deer are herd animals, so if one is present, more are likely nearby.
- Never swerve. Instead, slow down and brake. Swerving can cause you to lose control of your vehicle and strike another vehicle or object along the roadway.
- Use your horn. There is no conclusive evidence that hood-mounted deer whistles and other such devices work. Use your horn instead to scare the deer.
- Slow down. If a crash with a deer is unavoidable, AAA recommends slowing down and releasing your foot from the brake before impact. This will raise the front end of the car during the crash and increase the likelihood that the animal will go underneath the vehicle instead of through the windshield.
- Buckle up and do not speed. Lower speed will increase your reaction time.
What to Do if You Hit a Deer
- If you hit a deer, stop at the scene, get your car off the road if possible and call police. Do not try to move a deer.
- If a deer is struck by a vehicle, but not killed, drivers are urged to keep their distance because some deer may recover and move on.
AAA Mid-Atlantic, serves nearly four million members in parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and throughout Delaware, Maryland and the District of Columbia, and is on the Web at aaa.com/community.
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