How Many Car Accidents Are Caused by Animals Each Year?

It’s widely known that human error is responsible for most car accidents, with careless actions like texting, speeding, and running red lights responsible for millions of accidents each year. But did you know that collisions with animals are also a major source of auto accidents? That’s especially true here in Utah, where cows, horses, deer, and even moose are common sights along the sides of rural roads and highways. Salt Lake City car crash lawyer Darwin Overson looks at statistics from the Department of Public Safety to find out how many crashes are caused by animals, and where in Utah they most often occur.

Utah Animal Car Accident Statistics: Crashes, Fatalities, and Injuries

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According to the Department of Public Safety (DPS), which issues an annual statistical report on accident trends, there were just over 60,000 crashes in Utah last year: an increase of about 6,000 accidents from 2014. Among the accidents that were reported last year, about 42,000 (70.1%) caused property damage only, about 17,650 (29.4%) resulted in injury, and 258 (0.4%) were fatal. As a result of these crashes, nearly 25,000 people were injured, and, sadly, 278 people lost their lives.

The question is, how many of these crashes were caused by collisions with animals?

Based on DPS data, collisions with animals accounted for 3,381 of the 60,012 accidents that were reported in 2015, which is about 5.6%. That means roughly one out of every 20 crashes that took place in Utah last year involved a wild or domesticated animal – not an insignificant number.

In many of these accidents – 3,229, to be exact – the collision with the animal was listed as being the “first harmful event,” meaning the event that caused or set the crash in motion. In fact, only collisions with parked and moving vehicles surpassed animal collisions as the first harmful events in crashes, causing 3,367 and 39,678 accidents respectively.

Even though crashes with animals are common, injuries and deaths are rare. Out of the 3,229 accidents where animal collisions were the first harmful event, 3,005 (93.1%) resulted in property damage only, and 223 (6.9%) resulted in injury. One crash was fatal.

So where in Utah are these accidents mainly occurring? Which parts of the state have the highest numbers of animal-related car crashes?

Top 10 Utah Counties with the Most Auto Accidents Caused by Animals

You might expect rural areas to have the most animal collisions, but actually, that dubious title goes to Utah’s second most populous county, Utah County, which is home to about half a million people. According to DPS figures, there were 332 animal-related car accidents in Utah County last year, more than anywhere else in the state.

However, rural counties aren’t off the hook just yet. Animal crashes, though common in Utah County, accounted for only 3.8% of the county’s total accidents. In rural counties, the animal accident totals are much lower, but the percentages are much higher, meaning animals account for a greater proportion of crashes.

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Source: Utah Department of Public Safety, 2015 Auto Accident Overview

For example, there were only 17 animal-related crashes in Piute County, which has a population of less than 2,000; yet those 17 accidents accounted for more than 56% of Piute County’s crashes in 2015, compared the 3.8% figure in Utah County. So, while animal crashes happen more frequently in densely populated areas, crashes in rural counties are more likely to be caused by animals.

Curious to see where your county stands? Here’s how the DPS ranked Utah counties by total animal crashes in 2015:

29. Rich County – 15 animal accidents
28. Daggett County – 16
27. Piute County – 17
26. Morgan County – 35
23. / 24. / 25. Beaver County / Grand County / Wayne County – 38
22. Juab County – 59
21. Emery County – 72
20. Tooele County – 81
19. Garfield County – 88
18. Millard County – 94
16. / 17. Carbon County / Weber County – 95
15. Sevier County – 109
14. Washington County – 117
12. / 13. Duchesne County / Kane County – 119
11. Sanpete County – 129
10. Uintah County – 137
9. San Juan County – 138
8. Cache County – 149
7. Iron County – 163
6. Box Elder County – 171
5. Davis County – 124
4. Wasatch County – 246
3. Summit County – 250
2. Salt Lake County – 297
1. Utah County – 332

Injured in a Collision with an Animal? Contact a Utah County Car Accident Lawyer

If you or one of your family members was injured in a car crash that was caused by a deer, a cow, a horse, a dog, or any other type of animal, you may be able to obtain compensation for your medical bills, repairing damage to your vehicle, and other expenses. With over 33 years of experience as a personal injury lawyer, Utah County car accident attorney Darwin Overson is here to provide friendly and efficient legal assistance.

To talk about your accident claim in a free legal consultation with an experienced Summit County auto accident lawyer, call the law offices of Overson Law at (801) 895-3143. We handle personal injury claims throughout the state.


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