Vehicle-Animal Accident Fatalities on Rise
According to a new study by the Highway Loss Data Institute, vehicle-animal accident fatalities have more than doubled in 15 years. The report found that there were 223 fatalities last year. This is up from 150 in 2000 and 101 in 1993. Over the last 15 years, Texas has seen the most fatalities with 227; Wisconsin follows with 123 and Pennsylvania with 112 fatalities.
The Highway Loss Data Institute and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety report that most of the fatalities come from collisions with deer. They cite urban sprawl overlapping with deer habitat as the main reason. This is especially present during November, and the study found that insurance claims are three times higher this month than they are from January to September. The study explains that this coincides with the autumn breeding season.
The Governors Highway Safety Association believes the public may perceive these types of accidents to be more common than they actually are, and point to the 12,000 drunken driving fatalities every year for context. They also state that there are no proven countermeasures to these collisions, except fencing which can be very expensive. (The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety stated in 2004 that fencing combined with overpasses and underpasses may be an effective way of countering vehicle collisions with deer.)They suggest people slow down, especially around dusk and on rural roads where deer are most likely to be.
Anne McCartt, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s senior vice president, agrees the numbers obviously don’t compare to alcohol-related accidents, but points out the fact that the numbers of fatalities, as well as accidents involving vehicles and animals, is going up. State Farm Insurance Co. reported a 15 percent increase in claims for these types of accidents over the last five years.