Animals on roadways present safety hazards to drivers. October through December is an especially high-traffic time for animals moving from one part of their habitats to another while they breed and forage for food, although they can, and do, appear on roads throughout the year.
The average property damage cost of deer collisions between July 1, 2012, and June 30, 2013, was $3,414, up 3.3 percent from the year before.
Drivers that purchase optional comprehensive coverage on their insurance policies are covered for the damage. Comprehensive coverage also covers hail, fire, theft, flood, earthquake, explosion, and falling objects.
Driver Safety Tips
- Stay Alert. Avoid driving with other distractions.
- Slow Down to increase your reaction time.
- Scan Ahead and watch for movement along roadsides.
- Look for more animals after you see one animal - they often travel in groups.
- Brake. Don't Swerve.
- Be ready for animals to change direction.
- Don't litter - it attracts animals.
- Obey traffic signs, including wildlife warning and speed limit signs.
- Don't drink and drive.
- Watch for shining eyes.
- Use high beams to improve visibility when there's no oncoming traffic.
- Slow down on blind curves.
- Pass with care.
If You Hit an Animal
If you cannot stop in time, unfortunate as it may be, it is usually safer to hit the animal than to swerve. Swerving may land you in the path of another car or off the road in a ditch.
Pull over and call the State Patrol (dial *CSP from your cell phone in Colorado) or local law enforcement to report the accident. If the animal is still on the roadway, they can safely remove it.
If the animal is still alive, it may be dangerous for you to leave your vehicle.
If you vehicle is unsafe to operate or you are injured, stay in your car and wait for help.
Call your insurance agent at your earliest opportunity. If you carry optional comprehensive coverage it will cover damage caused by a collision with an animal.
Between 1995 and 2005 there were 30,245 animal-vehicle collisions on Colorado's roadways, according to the most recent statistics available from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). Twenty nine of the crashes resulted in fatalities—2,505 resulted in injuries and 27,711 resulted in property damage.
A study by the Southern Rockies Ecosystem Project, funded by the Federal Highway Administration, examined 100 known linkages, or commonly traveled pathways, between animal habitats and found many cross Colorado roads. The study identified the following locations as being extremely hazardous for drivers and wildlife:
- I-70 at Floyd Hill/Mt. Vernon Canyon
- US 285 at Morrison
- HWY 160, Durango to Pagosa Springs and Durango to Mancos
- HWY 550, North of Durango and Montrose to Ouray
- I-25 Castle Rock to Larkspur
- HWY 82 Glenwood Springs to Marble
- HWY 36 Boulder to Lyons
- I-70 Eagle
The Center for Disease Control has found that one quarter of all animal-vehicle collisions result in human injury.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that deer collisions cause about 200 fatalities a year.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates more than 1.5 million deer collisions take place each year in the United States, costing approximately $1.1 billion in vehicle damage.
$3,171 is the average cost per insurance claim on a vehicle involved in a collision with an animal.
Colorado Wildlife on the Move - a coalition of the Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado State Patrol, Colorado Division of Wildlife, Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, Center for Native Ecosystems, and ECO-Resolutions, LLC - was created in 2004 to promote safe travel by reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions and restoring passageways for wildlife to safely cross the highway.
The coalition launched a new website, www.I-70WildlifeWatch.org, that allows motorists to report wildlife they see along Colorado's Interstate 70 between Golden and Glenwood Springs. This website aims to educate drivers about the risk of wildlife on the highway and to gather public input to help identify where wildlife frequently tries to cross the roadway. Wildlife biologists and the Colorado Department of Transportation will review wildlife sightings reported on the website to help design and locate wildlife crossing structures that will reduce animal-vehicle collisions.