October 28, 2013

Missouri Department of Insurance warns motorists to use extra caution during deer season

Deer strikes accounted for 3,980 crashes last year

Jefferson City, Mo. - The Missouri Department of Insurance is encouraging motorists to slow down and be more vigilant when traveling Show-Me-State roadways. November is the peak month for deer-related auto accidents in Missouri.

"Hitting a deer can result in serious injuries and expensive vehicle repairs," said John M. Huff, director of the Department of Insurance. "During this time of year we all need to slow down and be more cognizant of our surroundings - even in urban areas. Also, make sure everyone is wearing seat belts."

Huff reminds motorists they must have comprehensive insurance on their auto policies to cover damage caused by deer strikes. Comprehensive is optional insurance and consumers should consult with their insurance agent to determine how much coverage is needed. The department has an auto insurance guide on its website, insurance.mo.gov, outlining the minimum insurance required by state law and optional coverage that is available.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, last year there were 3,980 deer-related accidents in the state, or one deer strike every 2.2 hours. The crashes resulted in five deaths and 411 injuries.

Here are some tips to avoid deer strikes:

  • Slow down.
  • Be aware of surroundings. Deer tend to cross roadways near streams or wooded areas surrounded by farmland.
  • Deer activity is not restricted to rural areas. Last year, 25 percent of deer-related accidents occurred in urban areas.
  • Scan the road from one ditch line to the other. Don't look straight ahead.
  • Do not swerve abruptly to avoid hitting a deer: You could drive into oncoming traffic or roll your vehicle in a ditch, sustaining injuries.

Most deer strikes occur between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m. The majority of accidents involving deer occur between October and December, with the most in November.