Fatalities from vehicle crashes with deer and other animals have more than doubled over the last 15 years, according to a new study by the Highway Loss Data Institute. The cause? Urban areas overlapping into deer habitat.
"Suburbia and deer habitat intersect in many parts of the country," said Kim Hazelbaker, the Highway Loss Data Institute's senior vice president. "If you're driving in areas where deer are prevalent, the caution flag is out, especially in November."
The report by the Highway Loss Data Institute found that 223 people died in animal-vehicle crashes last year, up from 150 in 2000 and 101 in 1993. The study also found that insurance claims for crashes with animals is three times higher in November than any other time of year.
The Governors Highway Safety Association's group's spokesman, Jonathan Adkins said that deer crashes are a small safety problem when compared to the total number of deaths, but are still important to look at.
State Farm Insurance Co., the nation's largest car insurer, has estimated 1.2 million claims industry-wide for crashes with animals over a 12-month period ending June 30 of this year. State Farm says that claims for those types of crashes have increased nearly 15 percent over the last five years.
In a 2004 study, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that fencing, combined with underpasses and overpasses, can be an effective way to prevent deer-vehicles crashes.