GARDEN CITY, NY (October 8, 2020) – Animal crashes have been increasing in New York state over the past five years, with a record number for the past decade last year. An analysis by AAA Northeast found 36,445 animal crashes in New York state in 2019, roughly one crash every 15 minutes and 10 percent more than 2018. The county by county study found Orange county, home of West Point and Bear Mountain, had the most animal crashes with 1,616. Suffolk County, surprisingly, was third highest with 1,415.
The latest data from the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research don’t cite specifics on what animals are involved in crashes, but data from New York and other states previous years found deer were involved in 88 to 98 percent of crashes. Due to their size and weight, deer create the greatest danger for drivers. “Striking a deer can be extremely dangerous, with the animal possibly going through the windshield, seriously injuring or killing the driver and passengers,” said Robert Sinclair Jr., spokesman for AAA Northeast. In 2019, animal crashes led to 1,778 vehicle occupant injuries and 12 deaths. October through December, mating season for deer, are the worst months for animal strikes.
Motorists should be especially vigilant at night. From October to December 2016, 84 percent of deer crashes occurred during darkness. Crashes were most common from 5-7pm, during the evening rush when darkness had just fallen.
Alert and prepared drivers can avoid animal crashes, or lessen the severity, by taking certain actions. Drivers should never swerve to avoid any animal, especially on country roads. Going to the right could send the vehicle into a ditch, tree or light pole. Swerving to the left could result in a lethal head-on crash. Even hitting the brakes hard could send the front end of the vehicle into a nose-dive, promoting the animal rolling up the hood and through the windshield.
AAA offers the following tips for avoiding or mitigating deer crashes:
- Scan the shoulders of the road in front of you; deer may dash out from wooded areas adjacent to the road.
- Obey the speed limit: lower speeds will give a driver more time to react to unexpected animal movement.
- If a collision is unavoidable, do not swerve! Apply the brakes gently to lessen the energy of the crash.