Watch out for deer! Crashes in NJ are getting costly
There's good news — whether you're a deer or a driver. There's also some bad, f you're the latter.
The risk of hitting a deer has dropped slightly. But the cost for such accidents is rising.
New Jersey is now 34th in the country in terms of accidents with deer, elk or moose (not that we have many of the latter two in the Garden State). Last year, we were 33rd. But Teri DiGrande of scorekeeper State Farm says the average damage claim for a deer accident in the state has increased to "right about $4,135. This is up 6 percent from 2014."
Your odds in Jersey for filing a deer collision sometime this year are 1 in 234, according to State Farm. But DiGrande says that doesn't mean you should become complacent — "the hours between dusk and dawn, those are the high-risk times for these animals to come out."
Where are deer-vehicle accidents the worst? West Virginia, where your chances of such an animal accident are 1 in 44. On the other end of the scale is Hawaii, where the odds of hitting a deer are 1 in 8,765.
DiGrande jokes, "we should move to Hawaii. They are last on the 'totem pole' when it comes to hitting a deer."
On the worst months in New Jersey for deer-car collisions, DiGrande says, "from a State Farm point of view, actually it is October, November and December, with November being the worst because that is deer mating season. So we want to prepare our drivers to be safer during those months."
Asked about the time of day that is statistically the worst for deer accidents, DiGrande says, "the hours between dusk and dawn, those are the high-risk times for these animals to come out. And we are not just talking about deer, obviously. Any other animals also. Bears come out as well. So you do want to be very, very careful."
When asked about the danger, what can happen in a deer/vehicle collision, DiGrande says, "If you see a deer, obviously you do not want to swerve. And you want to make sure that you are wearing your seatbelt. And if you have your auto insurance in place, you want to make sure that you have comprehensive coverage, because it is a comprehensive claim on your auto insurance."
And there can be more than money involved. New Jersey State Trooper Anthony Raspa was killed last spring when his cruiser struck a deer in Upper Freehold.
Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5