EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — As the holiday season is upon us, drivers across Pennsylvania are reminded to exercise caution when on the roads. While Pennsylvania’s forests are teeming with wildlife, they also pose a danger when driving on roads.

In a press release, Pennslyvania Acting Insurance Commissioner Michael Humphreys, and Secretary Yassmin Gramian of PennDOT, is reminding drivers that the fall and winter seasons pose an increased risk of deer-related-crashes.

They also remind drivers that insurance companies can’t add a surcharge to auto insurance premiums for deer-related-crashes.

“Auto collisions involving deer or other wildlife are considered a not-at-fault accident under Pennsylvania law, meaning insurers cannot raise your premiums or add a surcharge to your premium following a deer-related crash, but this exclusion does not apply if your car does not come in contact with the animal. Any damage to your vehicle from a deer-related accident will fall under a policy`s comprehensive coverage,” Humphreys stated.

State Farm estimates that there are almost two million animal collision insurance claims between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, in the United States and that Pennsylvanians have a 1 in 57 chance of being involved in an animal-related crash.

In 2021, PennDOT reports that there were more than 5,700 crashes involving a deer and of those crashes, 1,255 people were injured and 13 people were killed.

“Drivers can help reduce the possibility of a deer-related crash by slowing down and using caution, particularly in areas where deer crossing signs are posted,” said Gramian.

AAA also provides some helpful tips to help prevent a crash or deduce the damage should a crash occur:

  • Stay alert and pay attention to road signs while on the road.
  • Use your high beams when there is no oncoming traffic. The light reflecting off a deer’s eyes will reveal its location and flickering your high beams will often have the animal run away.
  • Deer rarely travel alone. If you see one, there are likely more nearby. Slow down if you see one and watch out for other deer in the area.
  • Resist your urge to swerve your vehicle. Swerving away from the animal can confuse them and they don’t know which way to run. This also poses a danger to other drivers as this could put you into oncoming traffic. Stay in your lane with both hands firmly on the wheel.
  • If you anticipate a crash, take your foot off the brake to avoid the front end of the vehicle being pulled forward. If not, this could cause the animal to travel over the hood and towards the windshield. Letting off the brake can protect you from a windshield strike and is more likely to have the animal be pushed to the side of the vehicle or over the top.
  • Always wear your seat belt, as the chances of you being injured during a crash are much higher without it.

“First and foremost, slow down. When you travel at a high speed, you reduce the time you have to identify the situation and respond to avoid the animal on the roadway, If you are one of the many drivers who hit a deer, don`t panic. Immediately pull over to a safe area and assess the situation. If there are any injuries, your vehicle needs to be towed, or the roadway is blocked; contact 911 immediately,” said State Police Commissioner Colonel Robert Evanchick

In Pennslyvania, there are two types of crashes that must be reported to the police: crashes that result in damage to a vehicle requiring it to be towed and crashes that result in an injury or death.

Minor crashes that don’t result in injury may be reported to the police, but it’s not required.

If another vehicle is involved in a crash, drivers are required to exchange licenses and insurance information. Drivers are also required to render aid when necessary.

If you find a dead dear on state roads, call PennDOT at 1-800-349-7623.