Mississippi Among National Leaders In Deer Collisions
Deer are a part of life in Mississippi, as common as sweet tea and friendly neighbors.
And, like both of them, a recent study shows that it might just be a matter of time before the state's residents encounter them.
Mississippi ranks eight in the country for most collisions between drivers and deer, according to claims data released by State Farm Insurance. There were 22,373 insurance claims submitted in the past year, down slightly from 2013-14 but still amounting to a 1 in 88 chance that a driver in the state will hit a deer.
Vicksburg State Farm agent Robyn Lea said it's not just rural areas that are the scene of collisions.
"Even in cities you'll see them. We all know there are a lot of deer in the Military Park. They don't just stay within those boundaries," Lea said.
Deer can be unpredictable, darting out of the woods and across roads to cut in front of cars. When collisions occur, damage to vehicles can be massive. The national cost per claim average is $4,135, up to 6 percent from 2014.
"I've seen claims where the deer have gone through the windshield. It doesn't take a big deer to do serious damage," lea said.
To avoid collisions, Lea said, the best methods are to slow down in know deer areas, use high beams when possible and be on high alert at night when deer are most active.
If a collision does occur, there are several important steps to follow. First, Lea said, is to call police immediately and record the incident with photos. While doing that, she recommended staying away from the deer. An injured and scared deer can be extremely dangerous.
"You should always call police any time you have an accident. If the animal was injured, there might also be a need to called the Wildlife and Fisheries Department," Lea said. "You should move your vehicle to a safe place, take photos and stay away from the animal. Deer are strong. They can hurt you with their hooves."
After those initial steps, Lea said, it's important to contact your insurance agent as soon as possible to begin a claim. Just as important is checking your car for damage. Even a collision with a smaller animal such as a raccoon or armadillo can damage the radiator.
"Double-check your car before you drive away, because you might have leaking fluids," Lea said.