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September 28, 2016

Video: Lunatic deer encounter in N.J. a reminder to watch your speed

Risk of collision rising in Pennsylvania, according to new data

Driving Accidents
092816_Deervideo Source/AP

Deer crossing.

Driving on the open road and listening to terrestrial radio remains, in 2016, one of the most emblematic rites of the American experience. It's one of the few peaceful slices of life left undevoured by the inexorable lineup of things you need to be connected to in this blinkering OH MY GOD THAT'S A DEER!

We don't know what this woman from Howell Township, New Jersey, was listening to at the time of this utterly insane deer encounter on Sept. 17, but it's clear the startled creature attempted to climb inside her vehicle.

A police officer who was driving behind the woman's 2008 GMC Envoy stopped to assist her after having seen the deer cross the road a few minutes before, an officer told local station News 12. That's when the buck charged the vehicle and the woman frantically kicked it out of the car.

It's high time for deer season in the United States and especially in Pennsylvania, where State Farm recently calculated that residents have a 1 in 67 chance of filing an insurance claim for deer, elk or moose collision. That's the third-highest rate in the nation behind only West Virginia and Montana. It's also a 5.8 percent increase over last year's odds.

These collisions can also prove fatal. There are about 200 annual deaths from deer collisions in the United States, according to an estimate from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Between the summer of 2011 and 2012, the Insurance Journal reported there were an estimated 1.23 million deer collisions totaling more than $4 million in damages. State Farm's data revealed the national average claim was about $3,995 in 2015-2016, actually down from $4,135 the previous year.

Here are a number of tips you can follow to be as prepared as humanly possible for the freak occurrence of a deer slamming into your car.

• Slow down, particularly at dusk and dawn

• If you see one deer, be prepared for more deer to cross the road

• Pay attention to deer crossing signs

• Always buckle up, every trip, every time

• Use your high beams to see farther, except when there is oncoming traffic

• Brake if you can, but avoid swerving, which could result in a more severe crash

• Remain focused on the road, scanning for hazards, including animals

• Avoid distractions, like devices or eating, which might cause you to miss seeing an animal

• Do not rely on products such as deer whistles, which are not proven effective

• If riding a motorcycle, always wear protective gear and keep focus on the road ahead

The other way to mitigate this problem is to hunt. Pennsylvania's archery deer season officially opens this weekend, to be followed by firearms over the next several months, when collisions are at their peak. More than 315,000 deer were harvested in Pennsylvania last year, a number higher than the human population of Pittsburgh. Apart from managing the stability and health of these deer populations, it's a recreational pastime that feeds families and protects the public safety of our roadways.

As for the deer, you just have to remember them well.