Driving down deer-vehicle crashes — use precautions at this time of year to reduce your risks

Madison, Wis. (Sept. 30, 2009) — It's the season where the leaves are changing color, a crisp chill is in the air — and motorists in many states are more likely to encounter deer on streets and highways. Unfortunately, these meetings often result in a serious traffic accident.

Hundreds of thousands of animal-vehicle crashes occur each year, the majority with deer. This results in millions of dollars of damages, injuries and in some cases, even death.

Sometimes these accidents are unavoidable, particularly during the fall months into early winter when deer are active and breeding. However, attentive drivers can take several simple precautions to reduce the likelihood of these encounters resulting in a traffic accident.

Last year, American Family policyholders in the company's 19 operating states submitted claims for animal-vehicle crashes totaling more than $79 million, with Wisconsin ($22.3 million), Missouri ($15 million) and Minnesota ($10.6 million) reporting the highest numbers, accounting for more than 62 percent of claims, with an average cost per claim of $2,464 (see chart below for statistics on the top 12 states).

Here are some defensive driving tips to help avoid deer-vehicle accidents:

One preventative measure you might hear about is the use of deer whistles. Deer whistles produce ultrasonic noise when the vehicle they are attached to exceeds 30 mph. The idea is the deer will be warned upon hearing the noise. It's unclear whether deer hear the noise, but regardless, studies show the whistles have no effect on deer behavior, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

If you do strike a deer, contact the authorities. You may be legally required to report an accident with significant vehicle damage, depending on state laws. Also contact your insurance company to report your claim. Collision with an animal is covered under the comprehensive section of your auto insurance policy.

Based in Madison, Wis., American Family Insurance offers auto, homeowners, life, health, commercial and farm/ranch insurance in 19 states. American Family ranks 388th on the Fortune 500 list and is the nation's third-largest mutual property/casualty insurance company.

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2008 American Family claims for animal hits*
Ranked by number of claims


State

Number of Claims

Cost of Claims

Wisconsin

9,232

$22,346,383.31

Missouri

6,338

$15,077,276.01

Minnesota

4,574

$10,684,668.02

Kansas

2,246

$6,058,171.91

Illinois

1,710

$4,481,463.79

Iowa

1,442

$3,448,169.55

South Dakota

1,173

$2,610,461.60

Indiana

1,164

$2,953,945.92

Ohio

1,024

$2,632,401.09

Nebraska

948

$2,430,104.71

North Dakota

943

$2,101,329.83

Colorado

722

$2,507,245.77

Average cost per claim $2,464

*Top 12 states

Based in Madison, Wis., American Family Insurance offers auto insurance, homeowners insurance, life insurance, health insurance, business and farm/ranch insurance in 19 states. American Family insurance is the nationís third-largest mutual property/casualty insurance company and ranks 388th on the Fortune 500 list. Web: www.amfam.com; Facebook: www.facebook.com/amfam; Twitter: www.twitter.com/amfam