Drivers urged to be on high alert for deer

This is the time of year when autos and animals — especially deer — collide.

Farmers Insurance and State Farm Mutual Insurance warn drivers to be especially alert, adding tips on how to avoid a collision and what to do if it happens.

Some animals are migrating and others are in the mating season through December, both factors putting more animals on the road, Farmers said.

One-third of Farmers’ claims from animal collisions come between September and November. So far this year such claims are running 2 percent ahead of 2015.

“The onset of fall means drivers need to be on high alert for animals on and around the road,” said Paul Quinn, head of claims customer experience for Farmers, “especially larger animals like deer and elk that can total a vehicle if struck at a high speed.”

State Farm said it is estimated there were more than 10,500 deer-vehicle collisions in Nebraska and 32,550 in Iowa between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016.

Among all states, West Virginia ranks No. 1, with chances of a collision, at 1 in 41, and Hawaii last, with the chance at 1 in nearly 19,000.

Tips for avoiding an animal collision:

>> Avoid distractions such as cellphones and GPS devices.

>> Be especially careful or avoid driving in known crossing areas at dawn and dusk, when animals are most active and light is limited.

>> Use the middle lane of a multilane highway and slow down to give yourself more time to react.

>> Use a seat belt. In fatal animal crashes, 60 percent of the people killed were not using a seat belt.

>> Don’t swerve if an animal is headed into your path. Many crashes occur when a driver turns and hits other vehicles or loses control.

> Be aware that other vehicles may hit animals, causing chain reactions.

>> Don’t rely on deer whistles or reflectors.

If you hit an animal:

>> Pull over safely and call law enforcement. Later, check with the State Department of Motor Vehicles to see if you have met reporting requirements for an animal collision.

>> Stay away from an injured animal.

>> Document the scene with photographs and write down witnesses’ contact information.

>> Make sure your vehicle is safe before trying to drive it.