Before you set out for that weekend road trip through the fall foliage, remember that the next three months have the highest number of deer-car collisions.
October, November and December are deer migration and mating season and more accidents are expected this year than in past seasons. Deer populations are growing and their habitats are being displaced by urban sprawl.
State Farm, the auto insurance company, said that while the number of miles driven by U.S. motorists over the past five years has increased just 2 percent, the number of deer-vehicle collisions in this country during that time has grown by ten times that amount.
Using its claims data, State Farm estimated that 2.3 million collisions between deer and vehicles occurred in the U.S. during the two-year period ending on June 30. That's 21.1 percent more than five years earlier.
To put it another way, 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 about 200 fatalities each year. The average damage to a car or truck is $3,103.
Some places are clearly worse for drivers than others.
State Farm took a look at the overall number of reported collisions in each state and weighed them by the total number of licensed drivers.
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.
If you are driving through a high-risk state, there are still things you can do to minimize your risk. State Farm provides the following tips to reduce your chances of hitting a deer:
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.
Keep in mind that deer generally travel in herds – 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 vehicle.
So 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