For release: October 3, 2011
The risk of colliding with deer is greater during the October-January deer mating 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 23,201 deer-vehicle crashes in 2010, down 7.7 percent from the 25,146 crashes reported in 2009 (24,590 in 2008). There were four fatalities and 1,063 injuries caused by these crashes in Ohio last year. This compares to four fatalities and 1,137 injuries reported in 2009, and six deaths and 1,128 injuries in 2008.
The five counties with the highest number of reported deer-vehicle crashes in 2010 were Richland (648), Stark (630), Hamilton (617), Summit (552) and Williams (528). Compared to 2009 figures, Hamilton and Williams counties showed increases while the others reported decreases in such collisions in 2010 (view 2008-10 Ohio county figures).
Counties reporting the fewest crashes in 2010 included Monroe (15), Morgan (33), Meigs (39), Coshocton (41) and Carroll (44) counties. Of these, Monroe county showed an increase while the others experienced decreases in 2010.
According to Ward’s 2011 Motor Vehicle Facts & Figures, Ohio ranks among the top states in 2009 for the number of registered motor vehicles (5th), licensed drivers (7th) and miles driven (7th). Each of these contributes to the number of deer-vehicle crashes. For 2010, ODPS reports over 12 million registered vehicles and 7.9 million licensed drivers share Ohio roadways.
Most deer-vehicle crashes occur at dusk and dawn, October-January during deer-breeding season. Last November there were 5,012 crashes – the highest number for any month (view county crash stats 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 2010, almost 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. (view crash stats by time of day).
ODNR deer herd estimates
State wildlife officials estimate Ohio’s current deer population at 750,000, which is the same as its 2010 estimate (2009 estimate was 650,000). 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 $3,100 per claim nationally. Crashes that include bodily injury could increase costs significantly.
Some crashes involve multiple vehicles. ODPS figures show 23,315 vehicles were involved in the 23,201 deer-vehicle crashes in 2010 (view vehicle crash stats by county). OII estimates Ohio auto damages approached $72.2 million in 2010 based on the average cost 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.
Additional crash findings
• In 2009 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. A recent HLDI analysis shows that from 2005-2009, Ohio ranked 4th based on state deaths in collisions with animals (49), behind Texas (88), Wisconsin (57) and Michigan (53). Although insurance claims normally don’t specify the animal involved, other data reflects deer are the main ones (view the IIHS report).
• State Farm® estimates there were 1.09 million deer-vehicle collisions across the country from July 2010 through June 2011, a 9 percent decrease from three years ago and 7 percent fewer than 2009-10. Using its claims data, State Farm® predicts the likelihood of an Ohio deer-vehicle collision at 1 in 132 – ranked 15th in the U.S. (down from 1 in 121 in 2009-10). This compares to the U.S. likelihood of 1 in 193 (view State Farm® news release).
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.
• 2008-2010 Ohio deer-vehicle collisions by county
• 2010 Ohio deer-vehicle collisions by time of day
• OH Traffic Crash Facts 2010 – Deer crashes by county & month
• 2011 State Farm news release
• 2010-11 Ohio Deer Season results
• 2010 Insurance Information Institute news release
• 2010 Ohio county total deer-vehicle crashes compared to all crashes
• 2009 IIHS Status Report
• 2007-2009 Ohio deer-vehicle collisions by county
• 2006-2008 Ohio deer-vehicle collisions by county
Ohio Insurance Institute
• Dean Fadel/: 614.228.1593
Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife
• Central Ohio: Karen Norris: 614.644.3925,
• Northwest Ohio: Scott Butterworth: 419.424.5000
• Northeast Ohio: Jamey Graham: 330.644.2293
• Southeast Ohio: Lindsay Linkhart: 740.589.9930
• Southwest Ohio: Kathy Garza-Behr: 937.372.9261
Ohio State Highway Patrol
• Lieutenant Anne R. Ralston: 614.752.4324