Shapiro Administration reminds motorists to stay alert, use extreme caution to avoid deer collisions

Insurance companies cannot add a surcharge to auto insurance premiums for crashes involving deer or other wildlife.

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Pennsylvania State Police remind all Pennsylvania motorists to stay alert and watch carefully for deer darting across and along roadways as there is a higher risk for deer-related crashes during this time of year. The PID also reminds consumers that insurance companies cannot add a surcharge to auto insurance premiums for such crashes.

“Under Pennsylvania law, a crash involving a deer, or other wildlife, is considered a not-at-fault incident,” said Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Humphreys. “Vehicle damage from hitting a deer is handled under an optional coverage called comprehensive coverage. Your insurance premium should not increase because of a deer-related crash.”

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Figures compiled by State Farm show that Pennsylvanians have a 1-in-59 chance of being involved in an animal-related crash, the third highest in the nation. And, according to PennDOT data, there were 5,849 deer-related crashes in Pennsylvania last year, resulting in 1,265 injuries and nine fatalities. The average cost of a deer-related collision is approximately $4,300, based on industry reports, and between July 2022 and June 2023, an estimated 1.8 million deer claims were processed across the country.

Fall marks the deer’s breeding season, and deer pay less attention and become bolder as they move around more and travel greater distances seeking mates. Deer are most active between sunset and sunrise during peak vehicular traffic windows.

“PennDOT urges motorists to stay alert when behind the wheel, especially when driving in areas that are known for deer sightings,” said PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll. “Slow down and pay attention, carefully watching the road ahead of you for any deer activity. Buckle up! Wearing your seat belt is your best defense in the event of a crash.”

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By following a few safety tips, motorists and outdoor enthusiasts can help reduce the possibility of being involved in a crash with a deer. Remember to:

Slow down and use caution, particularly where deer crossing signs are posted and increase following distance between vehicles; Make young drivers aware of increased deer movement; Be especially watchful during morning and evening hours when wildlife is most active; Exercise caution when one deer crosses a roadway. Since deer often travel in small herds, one deer will usually be followed by others; Always wear your seat belt; Never drive impaired; and Turn on your headlights if your wipers are on — it’s the law.

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

In Pennsylvania, two types of crashes must be reported to police: crashes that result in one or more vehicles being damaged to the point that they cannot be driven from the scene and collisions that result in injury or death of a person. Minor collisions or fender benders that do not result in injury may be reported to police, but it is not legally required.

“As part of our mission to keep Pennsylvania roadways safe, we want drivers to be alert, aware and assured that PSP is here to help if they’re involved in an accident involving a deer,” said Colonel Christopher Paris, Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police. “If you hit a deer and no one is hurt and your vehicle is drivable, you are not required by law to call the police. However, if there are injuries, if your vehicle needs to be towed, or if you’re unsure of what to do, don’t hesitate to call 911 for assistance.”

Pennsylvanians can report a dead deer for removal from state-maintained roads by calling 1-800-FIX-ROAD.

Pennsylvanians with insurance questions can contact the Insurance Department Consumer Services Bureau online or at 1-877-881-6388.

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