Other cars and pedestrians aren't the only things drivers have to look out for. This time of year, especially, deer crossing the roadway are a significant hazard.
Often the animals seem to appear out of nowhere, slamming into a vehicle before the driver has a chance to react. These collisions cause millions of dollars in property damage and even result in fatalities.
The Autumn months tend to be the most dangerous. That's when deer are most likely to be on the move. It's also hunting season, and a deer fleeing chasing dogs pays no attention to traffic as it makes its escape.
No less dangerous this year
In its annual survey, State Farm Insurance found American motorists are just as likely to have a claim involving a collision with deer, elk, or moose than they were last year. State Farm reached that conclusion after analyzing claims data.
The odds a driver will hit one of those animals is 1 out of 169, with the odds more than doubling during October, November, and December.
While a claim resulting from an accident often results in an insurance rate hike, a collision with a deer might not. Allstate says the typical traffic accident is certainly different than the random and unpredictable act of a deer dashing across a highway or rural road.
“Since deer accident claims are usually filed under your comprehensive coverage where there's no fault assigned, it's not likely that your auto insurance rates will increase,” according to Allstate. “Every state and scenario is different, though. For example, if your state allows it and you choose to file the loss under collision, your rates may be impacted.”
West Virginia still most dangerous state
State Farm has looked at where deer collisions are most likely to occur, and for the ninth year in a row, West Virginia tops the list. The odds of hitting a deer in West Virginia are one in 44.
Drivers face tough odds in other rural states, including Montana, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota. Motorists in Hawaii have the least to fear from hitting a deer.
Collisions with deer often cause extensive damage to a vehicle. Because of the suddenness of the encounter, the driver rarely has time to brake and hits the animal at full speed. The vehicle's radiator, located in the front of the engine compartment, is usually a casualty, as well as other engine components.
The deer rarely survive these accidents that have been known to take human lives. In 2013, there were 191 deaths attributed to collisions with animals, with deer being the animal most often struck, according to the Insurance Information Institute and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
There are a few safety steps you can take to reduce your odds of hitting a deer. At night drive with your high beam headlights on. If a deer darts into the roadway ahead of you, be on guard for a second or third animal that could be close behind. Deer usually travel in groups.
Finally, when you encounter one of those yellow, diamond-shaped road signs with the image of a running deer, slow down. Those signs usually go up where there have been a number of costly encounters between vehicles and deer.