For the third consecutive year, the number of deer-vehicle collisions in the U.S. has dropped. And the downturn is accelerating. The percentage decline over the last year is nearly three times as large as during the previous two years combined.
Using its claims data, State Farm, a leading auto insurer, estimates 1.09 million collisions between deer and vehicles occurred in the U.S. between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011. That’s 9 percent less than three years ago and 7 percent fewer than one year ago.
Among those states in which at least 2,000 deer-vehicle collisions occur per year, Vermont (24 percent), Michigan (23 percent), West Virginia (22 percent) and Connecticut (22 percent) experienced the largest one-year percentage declines.
There were 23,000 fewer deer-vehicle altercations in Michigan alone. Michigan is second on the list of states with the highest total number of these collisions (78,304), well behind Pennsylvania (101,299).
For the fifth year in a row, West Virginia tops the list of states where an individual driver is most likely to run in to a deer. Using its claims data in conjunction with state licensed driver counts from the Federal Highway Administration, State Farm calculates the chances of a West Virginia motorist striking a deer over the next 12 months at 1 in 53, an improvement over a year ago when the odds were 1 in 42.
Iowa remains second on the list. The likelihood of a licensed driver in Iowa hitting a deer within the next year is 1 in 77. South Dakota (1 in 81) moves up one place to third. Pennsylvania (1 in 86) jumps two places to fourth. Michigan (1 in 90) drops from third to fifth. Montana is sixth, followed by Wisconsin and Minnesota. North Dakota and Wyoming round out the top 10.
In eight of the top 10 states (Minnesota and Wyoming are the exceptions), the rate of deer-vehicle collisions per driver went down from a year ago.
The state in which deer-vehicle collisions are least likely is still Hawaii (1 in 6,267). The odds of a Hawaiian driver colliding with a deer between now and 12 months from now are approximately equal to the odds that the driver is a practicing nudist.
State Farm’s data shows that November, the heart of the deer migration and mating season, is the month during which deer-vehicle encounters are most likely. More than 18 percent of all such mishaps take place during the 30 days of November.
Deer-vehicle collisions are three times more likely to occur on a day in November than they are on any day between February 1st and August 31st. October is the second most likely month for a crash involving a deer and a vehicle. December is third.
The average property damage cost of these incidents during the final half of 2010 and the first half of 2011 was $3,171, up 2.2 percent from the year before.
“State Farm has a long history of supporting auto safety,” said Laurette Stiles, State Farm VP of Strategic Resources. “While we can’t put our finger directly on what’s causing a decline in deer-vehicle collisions, we’d like to think media attention to our annual report on this subject has had at least a little bit to do with it.”
Here are six tips on how to reduce the odds of a deer-vehicle collision:
• 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.
• 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, 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.
State Farm released this information Monday, Oct. 3.