Watch Out for Deer on the Roads: Whatcom County Sees 3 Wildlife Crashes in 24 Hours
As reported by the Bellingham Herald, there was a recent series of wildlife crashes involving deer hit on 1-5 in less than a 24-hour period. While it is uncommon for so many deer car accidents to happen in our county in such a short window, fall is the most common time for deer-related crashes. That means drivers should be extra alert to wildlife on our roadways in order to prevent a collision right now.
Deer Car Accident Statistics
Every year, about 1.23 million car accidents happen in the U.S. involving deer. These accidents are responsible for the deaths of approximately 200 Americans and an additional 10,000 injuries. Most deer collisions happen in the fall, especially in November.
According to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Crash Data Portal, up until this recent string of accidents there had been four crashes involving wildlife in Bellingham city limits so far in 2021. In all of Whatcom County, WSDOT reports 18 wildlife crashes so far in 2021. Between 2016 and 2020, Bellingham averaged 22 wildlife-related crashes, while Whatcom County as a whole averaged 40 per year.
What to do if a Wildlife Crash Accident is Unavoidable
If you are about to hit a deer; DO NOT SWERVE! If the roads are clear and you have time to change lanes in a calm manner, that is a good option. In most cases, though, the best thing to do is hold on tightly to the steering wheel, gently put your foot on the brake and brace for impact. It goes without saying that you should have your seatbelt buckled up. An average deer weighs 200 pounds while a car weighs 3,000 pounds; the simple math tells you that the car will win. After the accident, pull off to the side of the road, if possible, and then call the police and your insurance company.
A deer vs car accident will be filed as a comprehensive insurance claim. If you swerve to miss the deer and hit a tree or other barrier, you would need to file a collision claim. The important distinction is that a collision is charged as an accident on your driving record, whereas a comprehensive claim is not.
Tips to Prevent a Deer Car Accident
- Stay alert, particularly from dawn to dusk and during the fall/mating and spring seasons when the most deer-car accidents occur.
- Avoid distracted driving behaviors such as texting and driving.
- Never drink or do drugs and drive.
- Look for deer or elk crossing signs and be extra cautious in these areas.
- Slow down in areas with high deer and elk populations.
- Look for more than one deer. Deer are herd animals and they usually travel in a single file line. If you see one cross the road, there are likely more following behind.
- Use your high beams on dark, windy roads. They help with overall visibility but will also track the reflection in the deer’s eyes more quickly.
Bellingham Car accident attorney
A car accident involving a deer or elk can be traumatizing and cause extreme personal injury and damage to your vehicle. In some cases, it can even cause a fatality. Clearly, the deer cannot be sued but occasionally another party is responsible for the collision and could be sued for damages.
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!