On the Road

Avoiding Automotive Collisions with Wildlife

Wildlife vehicle collisions are a serious matter across the country, affecting both wildlife populations and public safety.

According to State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance, the odds of a driver hitting a deer, elk, or moose have remained steady at approximately 1 in 169. In the past year, collisions with these animals have resulted in approximately $1.25 million in claims. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates that 166 human deaths occurred from collisions with animals, most of which occurred during the months of July through September.

You can reduce your risk of colliding with a wild animal by following a few precautions:

  • Time of day and year can increase the risk: Moose and deer are more active during dusk and dawn, when visibility is reduced. While the time of year can increase your risk of encountering animals on the road, it is important to maintain caution year-round:
    • Deer collisions are found to occur most often during the migrating, mating, and hunting season between October and December.
    • Moose collisions are more prominent during the fall breeding season, September and October, and in the spring when younger moose begin to venture out on their own.
  • Follow the rules of the road. Remember to always wear your seatbelt, and follow speed limits and drive at appropriate speeds for the conditions you are facing.
  • Be vigilant! Pay close attention to wildlife crossing signs which are placed in common crossing areas and locations known to have higher densities of wildlife. Ask your passengers to scan the sides of the roadways – extra eyes are helpful! When visibility is reduced, take advantage of your high beams when no traffic is approaching. Look above the direct line of your headlights, as moose are difficult to spot at night, and taller than deer.
  • React with care. Slow down and be alert if you see an animal cross the road, as others may soon follow. This is especially true with deer.
    • If you spot an animal on the side of the road, turn on your flashers to warn other drivers. Be sure to pass with caution so as not to startle the animal.
    • If an animal is in the road, try not to swerve. Instead, apply your brakes firmly and sound your horn in short bursts. If you must change your path, only do so when you can maintain control, as many accidents are caused not by actual collisions with wildlife but rather by attempts to avoid them.