Several days ago, a nice buck darted in front of the car on a rural road. He went a few yards into the woods and stopped to watch as we passed his spot. It reminded me this is a peak time for deer and autos to tanglle.
Deer have been especially active earlier this year. That means more opportunity hunters, but it also means more chances of deer-auto collisions.
Many farmers harvested their crops weeks sooner than normal. That has led to increased early fall deer movement during the time which traditionally is the top time of the year for deer-auto accidents.
Over the years, I’ve had more than my share of accidents involving deer. I think my number is somewhere around 13 or 14. Maybe it is because I’ve lived many of my years in a rural setting, and also because I seem to put a lot of miles on a vehicle. Otherwise, I have a good driving record, and fortunately I haven’t collided with any deer for a number of years.
Once, I drove 2,000 miles on a fall hunting trip only to hit a deer about a mile from my house on the return trip. I even installed deer whistles on my car and had one of them knocked off when I collided with a small buck.
So when I hear or read about wildlife officials issuing their annual fall deer warning, it catches my attention and is something worthy of passing along to readers.
When I received a news release from an auto insurance company about states where drivers are most likely to strike deer. I just assumed Indiana would be near the top of the list--at least somewhere in the top 10. To my surprise I was wrong.
While the number of miles driven by U.S. motorists over the past five years has increased just two percent, the number of deer-vehicle collisions in this country during that time has grown by 10 times that amount.
Using its claims data, State Farm®, one of the nation’s largest auto insurers, estimates 2.3 million collisions between deer and vehicles occurred in the U.S. during the two-year period between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2010. That’s 21.1 percent more than five years earlier.
To put it another way, according to State Farm, during your reading of this paragraph, a collision between a deer and vehicle will likely have taken place (they are much more likely during the last three months of the year and in the early evening).
For the fourth year in a row, West Virginia tops the list of those states where a driver is most likely to collide with 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 driver striking a deer over the next 12 months at 1 in 42.
Iowa is second on the list. The likelihood of a licensed driver in Iowa striking a deer within the next year is 1 in 67. Michigan (1 in 70) is third. Fourth and fifth on the list are South Dakota (1 in 76) and Montana (1 in 82).
Pennsylvania is sixth, followed by North Dakota and Wisconsin. Arkansas and Minnesota round out the top 10.
The state in which deer-vehicle collisions are least likely is still Hawaii (1 in 13,011). The odds of a Hawaiian driver hitting a deer between now and 12 months from now are roughly equivalent to the odds of finding a pearl in an oyster shell.
So where was Indiana on the list? The state was in the middle of the pack, with one chance out of 160 drivers of colliding with a deer during the past year. Kentucky had a rate of one out of 161, and Ohio was one out of 121.
Don’t become one of the “ones” in the statistics. Be especially cautions during early evening through a couple hours after dark.