In 2006, deer were the cause of 3,530 traffic crashes in Missouri, resulting in 364 injuries and three deaths, according to the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions & Professional Registration.
“With deer season underway, Missourians need to be cautious on our roadways,” Insurance Director Doug Ommen said. “Almost 50 percent of deer-related crashes occur between October and December, with the largest portion occurring in mid-November. Missourians can avoid these types of accidents by being especially vigilant between the hours of 5 p.m. and 7 a.m.”
Deer-vehicle crashes cost an estimated $2,800 per insurance claim and that figure increases to $10,000 if someone in the car is injured, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The department urges motorists to review their vehicle coverage with their agents to find out if their insurance will pay for deer-vehicle collisions. If motorists are in a collision, they should contact their insurance agent or company quickly to begin the claim process.
To help avoid deer-vehicle collisions, Director Ommen suggests the following:
• Stay alert, always wear your seatbelt and drive at a safe, sensible speed for conditions.
• Watch for the reflection of deer eyes and for deer silhouettes on the shoulder of the road.
• Do not rely exclusively on devices such as deer whistles, deer fences and reflectors to deter deer.
• When driving at night, use high-beam headlights when there is no opposing traffic. The high beams will illuminate the eyes of deer on or near a roadway.
• Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path, but stay in your lane. Many serious accidents occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and hit other vehicles or lose control of their cars.
• If the deer stays on the road, stop on the shoulder, put on your hazard lights and wait for the deer to leave the roadway. Do not try to go around the deer while it is on the road.
• If you do hit a deer and are uncertain whether the animal is dead, keep your distance. You are dealing with an injured, wild animal with sharp hooves that can inflict serious bodily injuries.
• If the deer is blocking the roadway and poses a danger to other motorists, you should immediately report the incident to the local law enforcement agency.
Source: Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions & Professional Registration.
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