Deer-Versus-Car Collisions Common This Time of Year

(Reading Eagle:  Published 12/12/2016, Henshaw, Steven, Web).

Just after dusk, a woman was driving on Bieber Mill Road in Oley Township when a large animal ran from the woods and into the path of her 2016 Audi. Bam! The woman was fortunate in that she wasn’t injured and her car was only slightly damaged in the mid-November incident. The fate of the animal was unknown, but a state trooper observed what appeared to be deer fur caught on the edge of a headlight. Just over an hour later, the same trooper from the Reading station responded to a similar incident 13 miles away in Washington Township after a deer ran onto Old Route 100 near Eshbach Lane and was hit by a vehicle. It was the second deer-related crash in Washington Township within 18 hours.

Deer-versus-car collisions are common this time of year. Although no data exist yet to indicate this year is worse than any other, there’s some anecdotal evidence it’s shaping up to be a bad year for motorists and deer. Motorists in Berks County and elsewhere in Pennsylvania have good reason to be skittish about deer. Pennsylvania ranked third among states most likely to have an insurance claim from a collision with a deer, elk or moose, according to State Farm’s latest deer-claim study, which was released in September. On average, 1 of every 67 Pennsylvania drivers will have an insurance claim for damage caused by a collision with a deer in 2016, which is nearly 6 percent greater than estimates for last year. Only in West Virginia and Montana are drivers more likely than Pennsylvania to file a claim for hitting a large animal.

The likelihood of colliding with a deer more than doubles in October, November and December during deer mating season, according to the study. “It’s that time of year,” said Chief Wesley R. Waugh of the Bern Township police. “You have all of the factors lined up – the harvest is done, so the food is gone; it gets darker earlier. There are biological factors and hunting season. It means the deer are on the move.” According to Waugh, 45 percent of the crashes in Bern Township during October were deer hits, and that trend continued in November. He said drivers need to be extra cautious this time of year, especially on roads where deer herds are known to have a presence. “You just have to use a prudent speed and adjust it downward,” he said. “You might say, ‘I know this is a deer road, so I’ll have to cut it back 10 to 15 mph.’ ”

Waugh said one example is the stretch of Interstate 176 in Robeson Township. The speed limit says 65 mph, but Waugh doesn’t go above 55 mph after dark.  “You just never know when a deer is going to jump out in front of you,” he said.

Robeson Township Police Chief Mark T. Phillips and most of his officers know the feeling of hitting a deer. When they respond to calls around a field that is a known gathering spot for deer herds, they slow down, even during an emergency call. Despite their precautions, the department has averaged about a deer hit per year with patrols cars, Phillips said. Most collision-repair shops have multiple “deer hits” awaiting work ranging from replacing headlights and fenders to major front-end work. “We usually have a few animal hits throughout the year, but not to the extent we do in late October and early November,” said Francis Elia of Elia Auto Body, 1740 Kutztown Road.

The lawyers at Liever, Hyman & Potter, P.C., are concerned for the safety of our friends and neighbors driving on the roads in Berks County and Schuylkill County and throughout Pennsylvania during the Fall and Winter and serve auto, truck and motorcycle accident victims and their families in Reading, PA, Pottsville, PA, and throughout Eastern and Central Pennsylvania.

From the desk of Adam K. Levin, Esquire.

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