You’ve likely heard the phrase – “caught like a deer in headlights.” In fact, you’ve probably witnessed this very thing if you’ve spent any time driving on rural roads. State Farm Insurance reports that if you drive in West Virginia, the odds of hitting a large animal are one in 41. The average cost for such an occurrence is around $4,000.
Every year, around a million drivers in America plow into deer on the roadway, racking up $1 billion in damages. Unfortunately, around 200 drivers lose their lives each year as a result of these collisions. This is a concern experts in the car market want to address in the future with new technology to help avoid these collisions.
In Michigan, Virginia and Pennsylvania, densely populated urban areas quickly turn into rural areas where deer thrive. Imagine going down a winding road at night and suddenly a deer darts out in front of you. What will your reaction be? Some drivers make the mistake of drastically swerving, which leads to a collision with other vehicles, the ditch, or over-correcting, which causes you to lose control of the vehicle.
Geico recommends the following where deer are concerned, and it’s advice you can pass on to your customers:
- They are pack animals, so if you encounter one in the road, there are likely more ready to cross the road
- They are most active at dusk and dawn, which coincides with difficult driving conditions
- They are very active between October and January
- Slow down (especially after it is dark) and stay alert
- If on a multi-roadway, stay in the center lane
- When you encounter a deer, brake firmly and calmly and stay in your lane
- Don’t swerve – you’ll lose control or collide with another vehicle or obstacle
- Honk to scare them off the road
With all the self-driving technology out there making headlines now, the same technology can be used to help drivers avoid hitting large animals. These advancements are also able to assist in avoiding collisions with pedestrians.
According to a recent article in the New York Times, automakers are testing new radars, laser-based sensors and software to spot deer and other large animals and make corrective actions to avoid a mishap.
This isn’t an easy task, as the systems installed in vehicles have to be expertly calibrated to not only recognize animals, but also recognize them in their various movements. However, it is estimated that the car market will see these new technologies in 2018 models.