Look Out! Deer Collision Odds Are Rising, What You Should Do

Sep 16, 2014 04:58 PM EDT | Matt Mercuro

U.S. drivers are nearly 3 percent more likely to collide with a deer sometime in the next 12 months than they were in 2013.

The odds drivers will hit a deer in the next year are 1 out of 169, though the likelihood doubles during October through December, when deer collisions are most prevalent, according to new claims data from State Farm.

"Periods of daily high-deer movement around dawn and dusk as well as seasonal behavior patterns, such as during the October-December breeding season, increase the risk for auto-deer collisions," said Ron Regan, executive director for the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies in a statement.

The five states where a driver is most likely to hit a deer are:

Rank

State

2014 Odds

Percent + /- from 2013

1

West Virginia

1 in 39

+ 4.9

2

Pennsylvania

1 in 71

+ 7.8

3

Montana

1 in 75

- 15.4

4

Iowa

1 in 77

- 5.5

5

South Dakota

1 in 82

- 9.3

How to Avoid Hitting a Deer:

In 2012, there were 175 deaths linked to collisions with animals, with deer being the animal most struck, according to the Insurance Information Institute and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Here are some tips drivers should consider when driving to try avoiding a collision:

-Deer Zones:

Be aware of posted deer crossing signs, which are placed in active deer crossing locations around the country.

-Don't Swerve:

If a collisions seems inevitable, attempting to swerve could cause you to lose control or place you in the path of an oncoming vehicle.

-Busy Hours:

Deer are most active from 6-9 p.m., however they can be on the road at any time of day or night, along with other animals.

-Distractions:

Things like cell phones and eating can cause drivers to miss seeing a deer.

-High Beams:

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

What Makes Odds Go Up or Down?

No matter if you live in Hawaii or West Virginia, drivers need to practice safe driving habits and watch out for animals on the road. Safe driving tactics and wearing your seatbelt may seem like a simple task for most drivers but both can significantly reduce the chance of suffering a serious injury in the event of a collision with an animal.

Click here to find out where your state ranks.

So what causes significant changes in deer collision rates?

"Changes in collision rates from year to year are a reflection of changing deer densities or population levels - more deer in a given area increases the potential for collision," Regan said. "Deer populations are also affected by conditions such as new or improved roads with higher speeds near deer habitat, changes to hunting seasons to manage wildlife, winter conditions, and other related factors."

The national cost per claim average is $3,888, an increase of 13.9 percent compared to 2013 ($3,414), according to State Farm.

State Farm calculated the chances of any single American motorist striking a deer during the time frame of July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014 in all 50 states and the District of Columbia by using its claims data and state licensed driver counts from the Federal Highway Administration.

Data is based on comprehensive and collision claims only.

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