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Study: Increase in Vehicle-Deer Crashes

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State Farm deer collision map

As reports, a State Farm study finds that the number of car accidents involving a deer on the road has increased by 7.7% over the previous year. This rise follows a three-year period during which deer-related collisions had dropped 2.2%. And for the sixth year in a row, West Virginia is at the top of the list of states where a driver is likely to run into a deer, whereas the state where a driver is least likely to is Hawaii.

Such accidents are most likely to occur in November (with November deer-vehicle accidents three times more likely than between February and August), with October and December being the next mostly likely months. Although Colorado is low on the list — at number 40 — its drivers are still projected to have had 11,485 collisions with deer between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012, according to the study. Auto insurer State Farm conducted the study by examining its claims data and state licensed driver counts from the Federal Highway Administration, according to a State Farm press release.

State Farm writes:

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.

The number of deer-related claims State Farm has paid has increased 7.9% over the last four years, although other similar auto claims (first-party, collision, or comprehensive coverage claims not caused by weather, criminal activity, or fire, and not including breakage of glass) have declined 8.5%. “We have known for quite a while that the frequency of auto insurance claims has been declining, but whatever is causing that trend is obviously not impacting deer-related crashes,” said Chris Mullen, director of Technology Research for State Farm.

State Farm offers the following tips for drivers on how to reduce the odds of a collision involving a deer:

  • 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.

You can see a list of all the states and the likelihood that a driver will collide with a deer here:


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