The memory of hitting an animal while driving can be hard to forget, even for a very young child. It was a sunny morning. The whole family was on the road trip, their car traveling on the inner lane of the freeway. Then, out of nowhere, an adult German Shepherd crossed the road like lightning. The driving father reduced speed but ended up hitting the animal with the edge of the front bumper. There was nothing to do. The dog continued to run in all lanes, and no one knows what happened to him. It could have been a very serious accident, if the car had crashed with other cars or had overturned. It’s still a vivid memory, the child in the back seat was me.
In the recent 12-month period between July 2020 and June 2021, similar scenes occurred about 2.1 million times on U.S. roads (7.2% more than in the previous 12 months) according to an annual review from State Farm, the leading automobile insurer in the United States.
Motor vehicle-animal collisions occur in all states and throughout the year, but data confirms that the most dangerous months for collisions with animals are November, October, and December, in that order, just like in the previous 12 months.
Different points of view
Geographically, the top 5 states for animal collisions are: Pennsylvania (with 166,404 estimated auto insurance claims filed industry-wide); Michigan (132,387); Texas, where the estimated total number of animal strike claims (131,373) increased 19% from the previous period; California, where the number of claims involving animals (104,767) has skyrocketed 65% from the previous 12-month period; and North Carolina (98,409).
Interestingly, looking at the likelihood of drivers hitting an animal gives a different ranking: it turns out that West Virginia leads the country for this type of risk (1 in 37 ); followed by Montana, where the odds of hitting an animal (1 in 39) have increased by 17% since the previous period; South Dakota (1 in 48); and Michigan and Pennsylvania (both, with a 1 in 54 chance).
Compare that to the District of Columbia, where fewer than 1,000 animal crashes are estimated to have occurred in the recent 12-month period observed, and where drivers have a much lower 1 in 569 likelihood of being injured. hit an animal.
The rankings of the two states differ because, for the ranking of the likelihood of collisions with animals, the number of licensed drivers and the total number of collisions with animals in each state affects the calculation, while for the ranking claims, only the estimated number of industry claims counts.
Many times animal collisions result in deaths on the road, and often in injuries or even deaths of drivers and passengers. From a material standpoint, vehicle damage can vary wildly, from a scratch or bump to a completely totaled car, depending on factors such as how fast you drive or the size of the vehicle. affected animal.
âSince a collision with an animal often results in the death of that animal, this type of accident is particularly unsettling for drivers,â said Kimberly Sterling, vice president of operations, P&C claims at State Farm. âScanning the road while we are driving, as well as slowing down, is very important, not only when we are driving near wildlife, in rural areas for example, but also in our own residential areas, where pets abound. “
The range of animals involved in car crashes is extremely diverse. In our claims database we find chickens, alligators, bats, cows, pigs, armadillos, bears, donkeys, eagles, horses, coyotes, owls, cats and dogs, and the list goes on. And then there is the âunidentified animalsâ category: those that the drivers could not identify at the time of the accidents, often because of the speed with which everything happened, and those for which the accident specialists just didn’t have more information. Nationally, however, in the recent 12-month period observed, more than half of the time the affected animal was a deer (about 1.4 million), followed by ‘unidentified animals’ (189 715), rodents (110,976), dogs (92,924) and raccoons (58,020).
To calculate the industry claim estimates, State Farm took into account the number of animal collision claims received, the company’s market penetration (owner) and the number of licensed operators. in every state.
Prevent as much as you can
Speed ââhas been one of the most dangerous phenomena during the Covid-19 pandemic, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) calling 2020 the deadliest year (for humans) on highways in more than a decade. Likewise, speed could also be a factor behind the staggering animal collision statistics and the recent surge.
Here is a list of 10 tips that could help you reduce the risk of hitting an animal with your motor vehicle.
- Reduce distractions. Put the cell phone away. It can also help you avoid injuring motorcyclists, cyclists, pedestrians and animals.
- Slow down, especially if you see an animal near the road.
- Stay alert. Scan the road for animals day and night, in the countryside and in the city.
- Watch out for deer crossing and other animal signs. They are there for a reason.
- Be aware of the high season. Deer accidents most often occur from October to December, which is the hunting and mating season.
- Pay attention to mealtime. Watch for animals on the road between dusk and dawn.
- Watch the herds. If you see a deer, there are probably more nearby.
- Use high beam headlights. Turning on your high beams on a deer can scare the animal away.
- If you cannot avoid hitting the animal, brake if necessary, maintain control of your vehicle and stay on the road.
- Talk to your State Farm agent about , which typically covers animal collision repairs after your deductible.
If you end up hitting an animal, take a deep breath. Make sure you and your passengers are okay. Call 911 if the animal is large and still there after touching it, and stay away. Once it is safe to do so, check your vehicle for roadworthiness, take photos of the damage and, if necessary, complete a .
Finally, if you had children with you in the vehicle when you collided with an animal, take a few moments to talk about it. Allowing emotions to express themselves, instead of suppressing them, can go a long way. In addition, recognizing that driving always involves risk can be useful for years to come.