Texas Leads Nation in Fatal Crashes with Animals

November 18, 2004

Far more people have died in Texas motor vehicle collisions with animals than in any other state. Many of these fatalities could have been prevented if motorists had worn seatbelts or motorcyclists had worn helmets.

A new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety on vehicle-animal crashes shows 60 percent of the people killed riding in vehicles weren’t using safety belts and 65 percent of those killed riding on motorcycles weren’t wearing helmets.

“The study shows that the initial impact with animals is not the direct cause of death in many of these mishaps,” said Mark Hanna, a spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas.

“The study revealed that a third of these crashes involved a secondary collision with a fixed object or overturning, which caused the traffic fatality.”

Texas recorded 161 fatalities in the 12-year study compared to the next most hazardous state, Pennsylvania, which had 85 fatalities during the same time period. The study also showed that the number of vehicle-animal collisions is rising. Hanna said this was a direct result of more traffic on Texas rural roads and the state’s abundant wildlife.

The Institute’s study showed motorcycles were involved in a third of the fatal collisions, even though other vehicles on the road out number motorcycles 40 to 1.

“Motorcyclists should think twice before venturing out on a highway, especially after dark, where deer are known to be prevalent,” Hanna said.

Deer were struck in three out of every four crashes in the study that examined vehicle-animal collisions involving a human fatality. The study closely examined crashes in nine states between 1992 and 2003.

More than 1 million deer-vehicle crashes occur each year in the United States resulting in more than $1 billion in vehicle damage.

Many animal-vehicle collisions are unavoidable, but recognizing the danger and being prepared can save lives.

* Crashes with deer occur most frequently in rural areas, on roads with 55 mph or higher speed limits and in darkness or at dusk or dawn.
* Motorists should slow down and be more alert in areas where deer are most likely to appear.
* Wearing a safety belt will lessen the impact of a collision with an animal and may allow you to maintain control of your vehicle after the crash.
* Do not attempt to steer into oncoming traffic or veer off the roadway to avoid colliding with an animal.
* If you collide with an animal, immediately turn on your flashers and move onto the shoulder to avoid oncoming traffic.
* Call 911 to report the mishap and contact your insurance agent or insurance company to repair your vehicle.

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