OCEAN CITY – Maryland motorists have a slightly higher chance at having a deer “frozen in their headlights” this year according to state authorities, as the annual deer migration has hit its peak months.
Historically, October, November, and December are the primary months for deer migration and mating in the country and motorists are urged to be on the defensive as their mating habits often cause deer to travel without concern for vehicles.
According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife and Heritage, the number of deer in the state of Maryland has risen 1 percent from last year with the number of white tail deer in the state approximated at 228,000.
“Motorists need to be especially alert from sunset to dawn as deer will be more active after dark during this period of peak breeding behavior,” said Brian Eyler, Deer Project Leader for DNR’s Wildlife & Heritage Service.
Federal government reports say that the “vast majority” of the half-million animal-related vehicle accidents each year are caused by deer, and despite the 15-percent increase in Worcester and Wicomico County deer harvest numbers last year, officials say that the chances of hitting a deer with your automobile is substantially higher in the next few months.
With that said, the 2007 numbers as far as actual collisions reported by motorists were down substantially last year, and the number of insurance claims from deer/vehicle collision were the second lowest since 1998 according to the state.
Maryland remains in the top 10 for chances to hit a deer, but at one-in-100, the chances are certainly better than more states more prone to deer collisions like West Virginia (one in 45), and Pennsylvania (one in 75).
Local insurance companies urge motorists to check their policies and be sure that deer collision is covered on their policies, as a rising number of companies are including this type of claim in comprehensive insurance rather than in collision.
Kathy Fowler, of Fowler Insurance Company in Ocean Pines explained that if faced with the decision of hitting the deer or swerving to miss, sometimes it’s safer to just hit the deer.
“It’s a shame if you have to hit the poor thing, but if you swerve to miss the deer and hit a tree, it’s considered your fault. If you hit the deer, you are covered,” she said.