Wolf Administration reminds drivers to stay alert and use caution to avoid collisions with deer

Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Acting Insurance Commissioner Michael Humphreys, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Secretary Yassmin Gramian and State Police Commissioner Colonel Robert Evanchick today reminded drivers of the increased risk for deer-related crashes in fall and that insurance companies cannot add a surcharge to car insurance premiums for such accidents.

“Late fall and early winter is when drivers are most likely to have a deer-related accident, and dawn and dusk are peak times for deer activity,” Humphreys said. “Auto collisions involving deer or other wildlife are considered a no-fault accident under Pennsylvania law, meaning insurers cannot increase your premiums or add a surcharge to your premium following a deer-related accident, but this exclusion does not apply if your car does not come into contact with the animal. Any damage to your vehicle from a deer-related accident will be fully covered under the policy.”

State Farm estimates there were more than 1.9 million animal collision insurance claims in the U.S. between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022.

Pennsylvanians, according to State Farm, have a 1 in 57 chance of being involved in an animal-related accident, the sixth highest in the nation. PennDOT reported more than 5,700 deer-related crashes in 2021, up from nearly 5,600 in 2020. Crashes in 2021 resulted in 1,255 injuries and 13 deaths.

“Drivers can help reduce the possibility of a deer-related crash by slowing down and using caution, especially in areas where deer crossing signs are posted,” Gramian said. “It’s also important to educate young or inexperienced drivers about increasing deer movement. Most importantly, the best defense in an accident is a seat belt.

Drivers should be aware of the following tips from the American Automobile Association (AAA) to help prevent an accident or reduce damage from a collision:

  • Stay alert and pay attention to road signs while driving. Areas with high levels of deer activity will often have yellow, diamond-shaped signs with the image of a deer.
  • Use high beam when there is no oncoming traffic. Generally, the light reflecting in their eyes will reveal their location, and throwing the high beam will often cause the animal to move away.
  • Deer rarely travel alone; if one is seen, there are probably more, so slow down and watch for other deer to appear.
  • Clearing animals can confuse them so they don’t know which way to run, and it can also put your car in the path of oncoming vehicles, so resist the urge to swerve. Instead, stay in your lane with both hands firmly on the wheel.
  • If the accident is imminent, drivers should take their foot off the brake. During hard braking, the front end of a vehicle is pulled down, which can cause the animal to travel up over the hood toward the windshield. Releasing the brake can protect drivers from hitting the windshield because the animal is more likely to be pushed into the side of the vehicle or over the top of the vehicle.
  • Always wear your seat belt. The chances of being injured when hitting an animal are much higher if the driver is not wearing a seat belt.

“First, slow down. When you’re traveling at high speed, you reduce the time you have to identify the situation and respond to avoid the animal in the roadway,” Evanchick said. “If you are one of the many drivers who have hit a deer, don’t panic. Shoot immediately to a safe area and assess the situation. If they are injured, your vehicle must be towed or the road is blocked; contact 911 immediately.”

In Pennsylvania, two types of accidents must be reported to the police: accidents that result in damage to a vehicle to the extent that it must be towed from a scene, and collisions that result in injury or death. Minor collisions that do not result in injury can be reported to the police, but are not required by law.

Drivers involved in any accident with another vehicle are required to exchange license and insurance information with the parties involved and render assistance when necessary.

To report a dead deer for removal from state-maintained roads, call the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation at 1-800-FIX-ROAD.

Consumers with questions about auto insurance can contact the Department of Insurance’s Office of Consumer Services at 1-877-881-6388 or at www.insurance.pa.gov.

For more information about the Pennsylvania State Police, visit psp.pa.gov.

For countywide deer accident information, click here.

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