Cost of deer v vehicle collision repairs on the rise as mating season peaks

Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 8:39 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Drivers be warned: deer vs vehicle collision rates are going up as the mating season reaches its peak, according to a local body shop.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, nearly 7,000 deer-vehicle accidents occur in the state due to less dense foliage, high animal activity levels and an earlier setting sun. Unfortunately, these collisions not only put drivers at risk, they usually come with a heft price tag.

“When a deer smacks into your car, they collide with significant force,” says James Anderberg, manager at Ball Body Shop in Middleton.

Anderberg says the average hit can cost between $2,500 and $6,000 with some smash-ups resulting in a total loss.

To make matters worse, Anderberg says the cost for repairs is on the rise because features that are currently on vehicles to help keep drivers and passengers safe are expensive to replace.

“Deer commonly take out the hood, grille, air conditioning condenser, the radiator, fan assembly, and front inner structure components,” he says. “But more and more, we’ve had to replace sensors, cameras, and other high tech safety features.”

State Farm Insurance reported the cost per hitting a deer rose 6 percent to more than $4,100 from about $3,900 in 2014. It then rose again to $4,341 in 2018.

To make sure accidents with deer don’t occur in the first place, Anderberg recommends avoiding high density areas where deer congregate after dark. Rural and suburban roads with zig-zagging stretches, long straightaways, uphill corners, sharp curves, dense culverts and low lighting can all overlap to create dangerous areas where accidents may occur.

Anderberg also offers the following tips on how motorists can help avoid a deer-car collision this fall:

  • Always use caution when driving - especially at dusk and into the evening hours. When light levels are low animals are more active.
  • Complacency equals negligence. Stay alert, focused and pay attention – be aware of the landscape and your environment.
  • Deer generally travel in small groups. If one crosses the road, odds are there are others nearby that might attempt crossing. Watch for and recognize deer crossing signs.
  • Sometimes it makes sense to hit the deer. This might sound callous, but if the choice comes down to hitting a deer or swerving over the center line, hitting the deer will cause less damage and reduces mortality rates.
  • Be a speed limit driver, higher speeds reduce reaction times - going the speed limit increases travel safety.
  • Keep your lights, brakes and tires well maintained for optimal performance. Buckle-up, don’t tailgate and remember to slow it down.
  • And, prepare for the unexpected.

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