Statewide deer-vehicle collisions decline for third consecutive year. Driver awareness remains key.

September 27, 2012 (COLUMBUS) – Drivers beware – 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 that although such collisions are down – 22,696 deer-vehicle crashes in 2011, down 2.2 percent from 2010’s 23,201 reported crashes (25,146 in 2009) – there were seven  related fatalities and 1,031 injuries in Ohio last year. This compares to four fatalities and 1,063 injuries reported in 2010, and four deaths and 1,137 injuries in 2009.

The five counties with the highest number of reported deer-vehicle crashes in 2011 were Stark (615), Hamilton(606), Lorain(602), Richland(599) and Tuscarawas (495). Compared to 2010 figures, Lorain and Tuscarawas counties showed increases while the others reported decreases in such collisions in 2011 (2009-11 deer crashes by Ohio county).

Counties reporting the fewest crashes in 2011 included Monroe (23), Noble (29), Morgan (30), Perry (40) andHarrison(43) counties. Of these,Monroecounty showed an increase while the others experienced decreases in 2011.

According to Ward’s 2012 Motor Vehicle Facts & Figures, Ohio ranks among the top states in 2010 for the number of registered motor vehicles (7th), licensed drivers (7th) and miles driven (5th). These factors affect the number of deer-vehicle crashes. For 2011, ODPS reports over 11.7 million registered vehicles and 8 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 5,473 crashes – the highest number for any month (click here for figures 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 2011, 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. (click here for figures by time of day).

The Division of Wildlife remains committed to reducing white-tailed deer populations where needed. Through a combination of both regulatory and programmatic changes, progress toward reducing locally abundant herds can be expected.

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 22,906 vehicles were involved in the 22,696 deer-vehicle crashes in 2011. OII estimatesOhioauto damages approached $70.3 million in 2011 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.

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. HLDI analysis shows that from 2005-2009, Ohioranked 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.

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: UnderOhiolaw, 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 forOhio’s property/casualty industry. The ODNR Division of Wildlife regulatesOhio’s fish and wildlife resources and ODPS protects the safety and security of Ohioans through eight divisions including the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

30- 

RESOURCES:
2009-2011 Ohio deer-vehicle collisions by county
2011 Ohiodeer-vehicle collisions by time of day
• OH Traffic Crash Facts 2011 – Deer crashes by county & month
2011-12 Ohio Deer Season results 
2011 Ohiocounty total deer-vehicle crashes compared to all crashes
2009 IIHS Status Report
2008-2010 Ohio deer-vehicle collisions by county
2007-2009 Ohio deer-vehicle collisions by county
2010 Insurance Information Institute news release

NOTE: Deer B-roll available (provided by IIHS)

CONTACTS:
Ohio Insurance Institute
• Dean Fadel (deanf@ohioinsurance.org): 614.228.1593

Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife
• Central Ohio: Karen Norris (Karen.norris@dnr.state.oh.us): 614.644.3925
• Northwest Ohio: John Windau (john.windau@dnr.state.oh.us): 419.424.5000
• Northeast Ohio: Jamey Graham (Jamey.graham@dnr.state.oh.us): 330.644.2293
• Southeast Ohio: Lindsay Rist (Lindsay.Rist@dnr.state.oh.us): 740.589.9930
• Southwest Ohio: Kathy Garza-Behr (Kathy.garzabehr@dnr.state.oh.us): 937.372.9261

Ohio State Highway Patrol
• Lieutenant Anne R. Ralston (arralston@dps.state.oh.us): 614.752.4324