2009 Ohio deer-vehicle crashes show slight increase

For release: October 7, 2010

Drivers beware: Active deer season has arrived
2009 Ohio deer-vehicle crashes show slight increase

Ohio deer-vehicle crashes increased 2.3 percent in 2009. Drivers beware…the risk of colliding with deer is greater during the deer-breeding season warn officials at the Ohio Insurance Institute (OII), Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife, Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) and the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP).

ODPS reports 25,146 deer-vehicle crashes in 2009, up 2.3 percent from the 24,590 crashes reported in 2008 (26,304 in 2007). There were four fatalities and 1,004 injuries caused by these crashes in Ohio last year. This compares to six fatalities and 979 injuries reported in 2008 (ten fatalities and 1,022 injuries in 2007).

The five counties with the highest number of reported deer-vehicle crashes in 2009 were Richland (721), Stark (655), Hamilton (614), Summit (575) and Lorain (547). Compared to 2008 figures, Summit county showed a slight decrease while the others reported increases in such collisions in 2009 (Ohio county figures).

Counties reporting the fewest crashes in 2009 included Monroe (14), Carroll (47), Harrison (51), Meigs (54) and Morgan (67) counties. Of these, Meigs county showed an increase while the others experienced double-digit decreases in 2009.

According to Ward’s Motor Vehicle Facts & Figures, Ohio ranks among the top states in 2008 for the number of registered motor vehicles (5th), licensed drivers (7th) and miles driven (6th). Each of these contributes to the number of deer-vehicle crashes. ODPS figures show more than 11.7 million vehicles were registered in Ohio in 2009.

Most deer-vehicle crashes occur October through January during deer-breeding season. Last November there were 6,043 crashes – the highest number for any month (crashes by month). According to data from the ODPS and ODNR, peak hours for these crashes were 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. followed by 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. In 2009, over 55 percent of these crashes occurred between 5 p.m. and 1 a.m. while 22 percent occurred early morning between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. (crashes by time of day).

ODNR deer herd estimates
State wildlife officials estimate Ohio’s current deer population at 750,000, up from its 2009 estimate of 650,000 (2008 estimate was 700,000). Ohio deer densities tend to be heavier in the east-central and southeast parts of the state.

Vehicle damage and insurance coverage
Vehicle damage varies dramatically depending on the type of vehicle, its speed upon impact and area of the vehicle that sustains the 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.

Some crashes involved more than one vehicle. ODPS figures show 25,263 vehicles were involved in the 25,146 deer-vehicle crashes in 2009 (vehicles involved in crashes with deer). OII estimates Ohio auto damages approached $75.8 million in 2009 based on average costs per claim and number of vehicles involved in crashes.

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 your premium.

State Farm® deer crash info recently released
State Farm® estimates there were 2.3 million deer-vehicle collisions across the country from July 2008 through June 2010, a 21.1 percent increase from five years ago. Using its claims data, State Farm® predicts the likelihood of an Ohio deer-vehicle collision at 1 in 121 – ranked 15th in the U.S. (up from 1 in 161 in 2009). This compares to the U.S. likelihood of 1 in 182.5.

HLDI November 2009 analysis
The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) examined crashes involving animals and found insurance claims are nearly three times as high in November than any other month. During November 2008, for every 1,000 insured vehicles 14 animal-related claims were filed compared to an average of 5 claims per 1,000 during January through September. HLDI’s analysis showed that from 2004-2008, Ohio ranked 3rd based on state deaths in collisions with animals (51), behind Texas (88) and Wisconsin (62). Although insurance claims normally don’t specify the animal involved, other data reflects deer are the main ones.

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 others to follow. Slow down and be alert.
• After dark, use high beams when there is no opposing traffic. 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.
• If a collision with a deer seems probable then hit it while maintaining full control of your vehicle. Don’t swerve your vehicle to avoid striking a deer. Brake firmly and stay in your lane. The alternative could be even worse.
• Stay alert. Deer are always unpredictable. They often dart out into traffic on busy highways in metro 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. Note: Under Ohio law, the driver of a vehicle that strikes and kills a deer may take possession of it by first obtaining a deer possession receipt (available from law enforcement or state wildlife officers, and from local Division of Wildlife district offices).

OII is an industry trade 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 State Highway Patrol.

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RESOURCES
2007-2009 Ohio deer-vehicle collisions by county
2009 Ohio deer-vehicle collisions by time of day
• OH Traffic Crash Facts 2009 – Deer crashes by county & month
2010 State Farm news release
2010 State Farm U.S. likelihood map
2010 State Farm U.S. likelihood chart
2009 Insurance Information Institute news release
2009-10 Ohio Deer Season results
• 2009 IIHS Status Report
2006-2008 Ohio deer-vehicle collisions by county
2005-2007 Ohio deer-vehicle collisions by county

B-roll footage provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS): http://rcpt.yousendit.com/963224585/ee88f1aeb65cd6322e764ccba3edf709

CONTACTS
Ohio Insurance Institute
: 614.228.1593

Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife
• Central Ohio: Lindsay Linkhart, 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: 614.466.6178

Ohio State Highway Patrol
Lt. Gary Lewis or Sgt. Doug Debord: 614.752.2792