Deer-vehicle collisions are three times more likely to occur in November than they are on any day between Feb. 1 and Aug. 31. While more than 18 percent of all these collisions take place during November, October isn’t far behind, followed by December.
For the sixth year in a row, West Virginia tops the list of states where an individual driver is most likely to run into a deer. Illinois remains middle of the pack, ranking 26th.
Using its claims data and state licensed driver counts from the Federal Highway Administration, State Farm calculates the chances of an Illinois motorist striking a deer at 1 in 162, compared with 1 in 190 the year before.
Ranking first, West Virginia has a 1 in 40 chance of these collisions over the next 12 months. South Dakota moved from third to second on the list at 1 in 68.
Iowa (1 in 71.9) drops from second to third, Michigan (1 in 72.4) is a close fourth, jumping one position from fifth. Pennsylvania (1 in 76) drops one spot to fifth.
In each of the top five states, the rate of deer-related collisions per driver went up from a year ago.
The state in which deer-vehicle mishaps are least likely is still Hawaii (1 in 6,801). The odds of a driver in Hawaii colliding with a deer between now and 12 months from now are approximately equal to the odds that any one person will be struck by lightning during his or her lifetime.
Counting U.S. deer-vehicle confrontations
The number of deer-related collisions in the U.S. has increased by 7.7 percent over the last year. This jump comes after a three-year period during which these collisions dropped 2.2 percent.
State Farm estimates 1.23 million collisions caused by the presence of deer occurred in the U.S. between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012.
The probability that any single licensed driver in the U.S. was behind the wheel during one of those 1.23 million crashes also increased from 1 in 183 to 1 in 171, approximately equal to the odds that you will be audited by the Internal Revenue Service next tax season.
Over the last four years, the number of deer-related claims paid by State Farm has increased 7.9 percent while other similar auto claims have declined 8.5 percent.
“We have known for quite a while that the frequency of auto insurance claims has been declining,” said Chris Mullen, director of technology research for State Farm. “But whatever is causing that trend is obviously not impacting deer-related crashes.”
The average property damage cost of these incidents during the final half of 2011 and the first half of 2012 was $3,305, up 4.4 percent from the year before.
Avoiding deer-vehicle mishaps
“State Farm has a long history of supporting auto safety,” said Mullen. “Calling attention to hazards like this one is part of our DNA.”
Following are tips from the Insurance Information Institute about how to reduce the odds of a deer-vehicle confrontation involving your vehicle becoming part of the story next year:
• Keep in mind that deer generally travel in herds — if you see one, there is a strong possibility others are nearby.
• Be aware of posted deer crossing signs. These are placed in active deer crossing areas.
• Remember that deer are most active between 6 and 9 p.m.
• Use high beam headlamps as much as possible at night to illuminate the areas from which deer will enter roadways.
• If a deer collision seems inevitable, attempting to swerve out of the way could cause you to lose control of your vehicle or place you in the path of an oncoming vehicle.
• Don’t rely on car-mounted deer whistles.
From the Oct. 31-Nov. 6, 2012, issue