2007 deer-vehicle collisions decline

For release: October 3, 2008

Driver awareness remains critical

Ohio deer-vehicle crashes decreased 6.9 percent in 2007 but don’t be fooled, warns state and insurance industry officials. Driver awareness of the risk of such collisions needs to be emphasized during the upcoming deer-breeding season, according to the Ohio Insurance Institute (OII), Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife, Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) and Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP).

ODPS reports 26,304 deer-vehicle collisions in 2007, down 6.9 percent from the 28,240 crashes reported in 2006. There were 10 fatalities and 1,022 injuries caused by these crashes in Ohio last year. This compares to 12 fatalities and 1,024 injuries reported in 2006 and nine fatalities and 1,084 injuries reported in 2005.

The five counties with the highest number of reported deer-vehicle collisions in 2007 were Hamilton (705), Knox (619), Richland (571), Summit (547) and Delaware (540). Compared to 2006 figures, Knox and Delaware counties reported an increase while the other three counties reported a decrease in deer-vehicle collisions in 2007 (click here for county summary).

Counties reporting the fewest collisions in 2007 included Monroe (23), Carroll (52), Hocking (68), Harrison (69) and Vinton (71) counties. Of these, Hocking was the only county to report an increase.

Nationally, Ohio ranks among the top states for the number of registered motor vehicles, licensed drivers and miles driven, reports the OII. Each of these contributes to the number of deer-vehicle collisions. Last year, the number of registered vehicles in Ohio exceeded 12 million.

Most deer-vehicle collisions occur between October and January during deer-breeding season. Last November there were 5,850 collisions – the highest number for any month (click here for statistics by month). According to data from the Ohio Department of Public Safety and ODNR, peak hours occurred between 5 p.m. and 1 a.m. followed by 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. In 2007, 54 percent of these crashes occurred between 5 p.m. and 1 a.m. while 23 percent occurred in the early morning between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. (click here for crashes by time of day).

State wildlife officials estimate Ohio’s current deer population at 700,000, up from its 2007 herd estimate of 675,000. Ohio deer densities tend to be heavier in the east-central and southeast parts of the state.

Vehicle damage varies dramatically depending on the type of vehicle, its speed upon impact and what area of the vehicle is hit. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), vehicle damage from deer collisions averages about $3,000 per claim nationally. Crashes that include bodily injury could increase costs significantly. OII estimates Ohio auto damages approached $78.9 million in 2007.

New study
A study of 2007 accident frequency claims released by Erie Insurance last month finds that although overall deer-vehicle collision claims are down (based on company-specific data), Erie’s Ohio claims averaged 7.3 claims per 1,000 insured vehicles, 1 percent higher than in 2006. According to Erie’s deer claim frequency statistics for 2007, West Virginia is highest with 18 claims/1,000 vehicles; followed by New York (14/1,000); Pennsylvania and Virginia are tied at (12/1,000); Illinois(9.5/1,000), Indiana (7.4/1,000), followed by Ohio and Maryland which tied at 7.3 claims per 1,000 vehicles. Click here for Erie’s 2007 claims frequency map by Ohio county

Most insurers cover these losses under the “other than collision” (comprehensive) portion of an auto insurance policy, less the deductible. OII officials note that insurers normally don’t single out deer-vehicle collision losses in determining future premium adjustments. Such a collision alone should not affect future premiums.

Driving tips for motorists
• Drive with extreme caution, at or below the posted speed limit, in areas with deer-crossing signs.
• Most crashes occur in the months of October through January, followed by May. Highest-risk periods are from sunset to midnight, followed by the hours shortly before and after sunrise.
• If you see one deer on or near a roadway, expect that others may follow. Slow down and be alert.
• After dark, use high beams when there is no opposing traffic. The high beams will illuminate the eyes of deer on or near a roadway and provide greater motorist reaction time. Don’t rely solely on high beams to deter collisions.
• Always wear a seat belt as required by state law and drive at a safe, sensible speed for conditions.
• Don’t swerve your vehicle to avoid striking a deer. If a collision with a deer seems probable then hit it while maintaining full control of your vehicle. The alternative could be even worse.
• Stay alert. Deer are always unpredictable. They often dart out into traffic on busy highways in metropolitan areas.
• Report any deer-vehicle collisions to a local law enforcement agency (such as the Ohio State Highway Patrol) or a state wildlife officer within 24 hours.

OII is an association representing insurance companies and agent groups for Ohio’s property/casualty industry. The ODNR Division of Wildlife regulates Ohio’s fish and wildlife resources and ODPS protects the safety and security of Ohioans through eight divisions including the Ohio Highway Patrol.

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RESOURCES
2005-2007 Ohio deer-vehicle collisions by county
2007 Ohio deer-vehicle collisions by time and day
Ohio Traffic Crash Facts 2007 – Deer crashes by county & month
2007 Erie Insurance study
2007 State Farm Insurance study (no Ohio info)
2006 State Farm study (includes Ohio info)

CONTACTS:
Ohio Insurance Institute
Dean Fadel: 614.228.1593

Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife
• Central Ohio: Lindsay Deering, 614.644.3925
• Northwest Ohio: Tom Lavergne, 419.424.5000
• Northeast Ohio: Jamey Graham, 330.644.2293
• Southeast Ohio: Susie Vance, 740.589.9930
• Southwest Ohio: Kathy Garza-Behr, 937.372.9261

Ohio Department of Public Safety
Lindsay M. Komlanc: 614.752.4325

Ohio State Highway Patrol
Lt. Tony Bradshaw: 614.752.2792