Our Opinion: It’s November, drivers; be extra cautious to avoid deer collisions

November 12th, 2015 3:47 pm

Spare yourself a mangled car bumper, shattered windshield or worse.

Be mindful while driving this month that white-tailed deer pose a particular road risk between now and mid-December, especially in Pennsylvania – a state that consistently ranks in the top five for what have been called “vehicle-to-venison mishaps.” Our woodsy commonwealth came in at No. 4 on this year’s list, based on the State Farm insurance company’s accident data. The firm pegged a Pennsylvania motorist’s odds of having a deer-crash claim at one in 70.

November, of course, stands out as the most dangerous – and most damaging – month for these crashes. It’s mating season, meaning deer are on the move and preoccupied with personal matters. Because the normally skittish critters are not paying attention to traffic, you should be extra vigilant or be prepared to pay the price. An average deer-crash claim rings up at about $4,135, according to State Farm.

Be on the lookout for deer herds or lone animals by the highway, particularly at night. Give those “deer crossing” signs at road’s edge more than a passing glance; reduce your speed. Other safety tips supplied by the Insurance Information Institute and those in the know include using a vehicle’s high-beam headlamps whenever possible to light the way. Don’t put too much faith in deer fences or whistles to safeguard your path, they warn.

Also, remember that deer typically travel in groups, so if one scampers in front of your vehicle, be prepared for others to soon follow.

Only Pennsylvania residents can claim a road-killed deer, the state Game Commission reminded in a news release issued last month. “To do so, they must call the Game Commission region office representing the county where the accident occurred,” according to the agency. The call must be placed within 24 hours of the time the resident takes possession of the carcass.

Antlers from road-killed bucks are to be handed over to the Game Commission or can be purchased (for $10 per point), according to the commission. To report a dead deer for removal from a state-owned roadway, you can call the state Department of Transportation at 1-800-FIX-ROAD, the commission advised.

Don’t become another November insurance statistic: Minimize the likelihood your vehicle has a close encounter with a deer by staying observant and taking it slow.