Fall is the prime season for animal-car collisions. The next three months are expected to be some of the worst times of the year for these crashes to happen.
According to the new State Farm survey, North Dakota was ranked number seventeen for the worst places for animal-car collisions. There were nearly 2 million animal collisions this past year across the country.
While deer were the most commonly hit animals, there were also reports of people crashing into dogs, cats, farm animals, and large rodents.
Nationwide, you have a 1 in 116 chance of hitting an animal while driving, and that likelihood doubles during the fall months. The survey shows that in North Dakota you have a 1 in 80 chance of crashing into an animal while driving.
I spoke with a State Farm Insurance agent who says not only is it safer to hit the animal rather than swerve, but it will also help with your insurance rates.
State Farm Agent Terry Richter says, “Here’s the thing, if you hit a deer then its a comprehensive lost and comprehensive losses are looked at differently than collisions from an insurance company. So if you hit the deer in a comprehensive loss or an animal it is not as big of a deal as if you swerve to avoid hitting the deer and roll your care because now you have a chargeable accident.”
Richter says most of his clients report accidents out of town in more rural areas.
He adds that over his 25 years of working as an insurance agent, he has definitely seen an increase in animal collisions and the cost of these accidents is getting more expensive.
In North Dakota, you no longer have to file a police report following an animal crash. So you don’t need to report hitting an animal unless there is injury or damage to personal property. Also, if a crash involves a domesticated animal such as a horse or cow and the damage to the vehicle was over $1000 then a crash report would be taken by officials.
“The other thing is to take pictures and do not approach the wounded animal. So if it’s a deer or a coyote or a cow – you know they are injured and you don’t know what they might do if you approach them so stay away from the animal that has been hit,” says Richter.
I did reach out to Morton, Ward, and Burleigh County and because of the change in legislation, they have gotten a lot fewer reports, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.
Morton County says they have had 5 reports so far, but they expect even more once hunting season is in full swing. The North Dakota Highway Patrol also told me they have handled sixteen accidents so far this year.
West Virginia and Montana were ranked as the worst states for animal collisions.
There are some things you can look out for to prevent this from happening to you.
- Use extra caution
- Slow down
- Use your high beams from dusk to dawn because these are the highest risk times
- Scan the road and don’t swerve
- Always wear your seatbelt
- Move the vehicle to a safe place
- Document the scene by taking pictures
- Stay away from the animal because it might harm you
- Contact your insurance company to file a claim
If the deer is blocking the road then you can call the North Dakota Department of Transportation or the North Dakota State Radio where they can make arrangements to move the deer.