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Nick Chabarria

In this weekly feature, we put five questions before someone in the community. Today, we chat with Nick Chabarria, public affairs specialist at AAA Missouri.

1. Why is November peak deer season in Missouri?

Deer collisions become more common this time of year since peak breeding season generally takes place in November and the deer are on the move. Fewer daylight hours for drivers during the fall and winter months also play a factor.

2. What are some tips drivers can follow to prevent a crash or reduce the amount of impact in a collision?

The best way to prevent a deer collision is keep your eyes on the road and slow down. This includes eliminating dangerous distractions while driving, like cellphones — just put them away, using your vehicle’s high beams when appropriate and driving at a safe speed for conditions.

If a collision is imminent, drivers should resist the urge to swerve and instead, stay in your lane with both hands firmly on the wheel. Swerving can put you in the path of oncoming vehicles or cause you to crash into something. Additionally, it is recommended drivers take their foot off the brake prior to impact. During hard braking, the front end of a vehicle is pulled downward, which can cause the animal to travel up over the hood toward the windshield.

3. When is the most dangerous time of day for potential deer collisions?

Many animals, especially deer, are most active from 5 to 8 a.m. and 5 to 8 p.m., which are prime commuting times for many.

4. What about products that are designed to keep away deer, like deer whistles? Are they effective?

AAA does NOT recommend drivers rely on any automotive products marketed as deer deterrents. The best chance of avoiding a deer collision and staying safe in the event of a crash is being an attentive, defensive driver.

5. Will my automotive insurance cover the cost of damages if I am in an animal-related crash?

It depends. Most policies include collision coverage, which pays for damage to your car resulting from a collision with an object (e.g., a telephone pole, a guard rail, a mailbox), or as a result of flipping over.

However, generally only comprehensive coverage will cover repair costs for damage to your car caused by disasters “other than collisions” — in this case, contact with animals. AAA recommends motorists review their policies and opt-in for comprehensive coverage, as the average repair cost for deer-related claims in Missouri is more than $5,000.

Nick Chabarria is a public affairs specialist at AAA Missouri.

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