Tuesday, October 29, 2013 • 11:41am
Fall Is Here, Watch For Deer
From now until the winter, you won’t only be seeing deer when your dressed in fatigues in the middle of the woods (if that’s your thing). You will also be seeing them on the road. ‘Tis the season. Deer–vehicle collisions lead to about 200 human deaths and $1.1 billion in property damage every year. Every year, there are approximately 7,000 reported deer vehicle crashes in the state; while almost twice as many go unreported. According to insurance industry estimates, and claims data, New Jersey ranks 13th in the nation in terms of the number of deer-vehicle crashes each year.
State and federal governments, insurance companies, and drivers spend an additional $3 billion in an effort to reduce and manage the increasing number of deer-vehicle collisions. That’s a lot of death, and a lot of dough. We could insert a deer pun hear, but we will refrain. Why? Because it’s a serious issue, where people get hurt—physically and financially.
The good news is, New Jersey is on it. The North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, (NJTPA), the Metropolitan Planning Organization for northern New Jersey, recently identified Deer Vehicle Crashes as a regionwide focus area and initiated the North Jersey Deer Vehicle Crash Coalition in order to begin to address this issue. This was a great start for New Jersey, but we must take it upon ourselves to approach deer-vehicle safety proactively. The first step is being mindful of the coalition’s message-- FALL IS HERE, WATCH FOR DEER!
You also need to remember that deer are crepuscular, meaning that they are active at dawn and dusk. So, it’s not surprising that most DVA’s happen between the hours of 5 to 10 p.m. and 5 to 8 a.m. While not all deer-vehicle collisions can be prevented, there are steps that drivers can take to avoid an accident.
Public Health and Safety Officials Suggest:
· The single best way to avoid an accident is to be aware of the surroundings. Pay attention to deer crossing signs, and scan the roadsides for the "eyeshine" of deer (reflection of headlights in the deer’s eyes).
· At night, use high-beam lights when appropriate. This may allow the deer to be seen a few seconds earlier, giving the driver enough time to avoid an accident.
· Deer often use woodlots, fencerows, field edges or areas near water. Extra caution is needed when these habitats are close to roadways.
· Slow down around curves in areas where deer are known to occur.
· Slow down and prepare to stop if a deer is along the side of the road. There are likely more deer nearby. Deer will often follow one another single file across a road. Trying to cross through the middle of such a group often results in deer colliding with the side of the vehicle.
· Be prepared for the unexpected. Deer may stop in the middle of the road or decide to double back to the side of the road. Hard pavement such as concrete or asphalt provides poor traction for the hard and sharp hooves of deer. They may even fall down.
· If there are deer near the road, and there are no vehicles close behind, slow down, honk the vehicle’s horn in short bursts and flash the headlights.
· If deer are near the road, tap the brakes or use the emergency flashers to alert other drivers. Prepare to safely stop if the deer move toward the roadway.
· If there are deer on or approaching the road, do not slam on the brakes or swerve sharply to avoid the deer. It is instinctual to do this, but doing so may cause a loss of control of the vehicle and a more severe accident.
· Never tailgate! Always leave plenty of room between vehicles. Many severe deer vehicle accidents are caused when another vehicle becomes involved.
What To Do If You Are In A Deer-Vehicle Collision?
· Pull the vehicle off onto the shoulder of the road and turn on the emergency flashers.
· Attend to any injured passengers. Do not get out of the vehicle to check on an injured deer or to pull a dead deer from the road. Do not risk being hit by another motorist.
· Call 911 to report the accident. They will dispatch the appropriate law enforcement officials to assist at the site. NJ law requires reporting of accidents that result in $1,500 or more in damage; additionally, an accident report must be filed.
In The Case of an DVA, What About Your Insurance?
As far as your auto insurance company is concerned, hitting a deer is typically a covered loss. Comprehensive coverage typically provides this protection and often actually stipulates that collision with a bird or animal is covered. Some states may let you choose whether you want to have these losses paid under collision or comprehensive coverage. Since this is a not at "fault" type of loss, your insurer is likely to process this through your comprehensive insurance coverage.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call me, Nelson Espeland III at Allstate-The Espeland Group in Scotch Plains, 908-233-6300. I don’t care if you are hours away, and I’m not your agent or your carrier-anything I can do to help your family prepare and protect, I’m happy to do it!
Our family has partnered with Allstate for over 80 years to help people with their auto, home, life and business insurance needs. Our quality, service-oriented agency is not only owned and operated by a family, our customers tell us we make them feel like family too. I’m proud to work with a company who’s been serving satisfied customers for over 70 years. Customers count on outstanding financial strength and superior claims service to help protect what they value most. Allstate delivers on their promise. In fact, their outstanding financial strength and superior claims service received an A+ (Superior) rating by A.M. Best. Quality service, strength and satisfaction – that’s something I’m glad to be a part of. - Nelson Espeland III
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