Beware of Deer when Driving

Before heading out for a week-end trip on beautiful, crisp autumn day, be aware that October, November, and December are the three months with the highest number of deer-vehicle collisions. These are the months when deer are both migrating and mating, making them more active and more likely to end up in the path of a coming car. Additionally, deer populations are getting larger, while at the same time, their habitats are being displaced by urban sprawl.

An October 2010 press release from State Farm notes that while the number of miles driven by motorists in the U.S. over the past five years has increased by only 2 percent, the number of deer-vehicle collisions has grown by ten times that amount. Based on claims data, it is estimated that 2.3 million deer-vehicle collisions have occurred in the U.S. during the two year period ending June 30, 2010. That figure represents 21.1 percent more accidents involving deer than 5 years earlier.

To put the numbers into perspective, during the time it takes you to read this paragraph, a collision between a deer and vehicle will likely have taken place. (They are most likely during the last three months of the year and in the early evening.)

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, deer-vehicle collisions in the U.S. cause approximately 200 fatalities each year, with an average damage to a car or truck around $3,100. And the accidents have a geographic component as well, with some states being far more dangerous than others when it comes to deer.

By evaluating the overall number of reported collisions in each state and weighing them by the total number of licensed drivers, a few states clearly led the list of deer-vehicle collisions. For the fourth year in a row, West Virginia tops the list of states where a driver is most likely to collide with a deer. The odds: 1 in 42.  Iowa is second on the list at 1 in 67, following by Michigan at 1 in 70. The state in which deer-vehicle collisions are least likely is still Hawaii, with the odds of deer strike being 1 in 13,011.

 Avoid Deer Collisions while Driving

If you are driving through a high-risk state, there are steps you can take to minimize your risk:

* Be aware of posted deer crossing signs. These are placed in active deer crossing areas.

* Remember that deer are most active between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.

* Use high beam headlamps as much as possible at night to illuminate the areas from which deer will enter roadways.

* Be aware that deer generally travel in herds Д± if you see one, there is a strong possibility others are nearby.

* Do not rely on car-mounted deer whistles.

* If a deer collision seems inevitable, trying to swerve out of the way could make you lose control of your vehicle or move into the path of an oncoming car

 Where does your state rank?

 Here’s a list, from the highest risk to the least:

West Virginia: 1 in 41.91

Iowa: 1 in 67.09

Michigan: 1 in 70.36

South Dakota: 1 in 75.81

Montana: 1 in 82.45

Pennsylvania: 1 in 84.63

North Dakota: 1 in 91.11

Wisconsin: 1 in 95.68

Arkansas: 1 in 99.24

Minnesota: 1 in 99.51

Virginia:1 in 101.97

Nebraska: 1 in 110.60

Wyoming: 1 in 114.49

Maryland: 1 in 118.75

Ohio: 1 in 121.09

Mississippi: 1 in 131.35

Missouri: 1 in 133.88

South Carolina: 1 in 137.21

New York: 1 in 145.45

North Carolina: 1 in 147.27

Delaware: 1 in 149.86

Georgia: 1 in 149.88

Alabama: 1 in 150.32

Indiana: 1 in 159.61

Kentucky: 1 in 161.12

Vermont: 1 in 170.28

Kansas: 1 in 172.12

New Jersey: 1 in 182.75

Maine: 1 in 215.48

Tennessee: 1 in 217.83

Illinois: 1 in 218.45

Oklahoma: 1 in 245.35

Idaho: 1 in 249.18

Utah: 1 in 266.43

Oregon: 1 in 286.53

Louisiana: 1 in 288.45

New Hampshire: 1 in 299.49

Connecticut: 1 in 320.37

Rhode Island: 1 in 345.34

Colorado: 1 in 365.72

Alaska: 1 in 385.27

Texas: 1 in 399.97

Massachusetts: 1 in 452.34

Washington: 1 in 474.46

New Mexico: 1 in 606.78

District of Columbia: 1 in 747.47

Florida: 1 in 971.47

California: 1 in 1045.61

Nevada: 1 in 1,488.08

Arizona: 1 in 1,788.47

Hawaii: 1 in 13,011.28

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