on 10.03.2010 22:25
Bambi is wreaking havoc on American roads, causing an estimated 2.3 million collisions between deer and vehicles occurred in the United States during the two-year period between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2010, according to new claims analysis by State Farm. The insurer points out that's 21.1 percent more than five years earlier. Buckle up; collisions are much more likely the last three months of year during mating and migration season.
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 10 times that amount. Yes, it seems the deer are out to get us. But, the reality is a balance between deer population growth and development expanding into wilderness areas. The North American white-tail deer population, the most common species, numbers 20-25 million animals. They range in size from about 100 to 300 pounds, and of course, the adult males often have antlers. Needless to say, this is a critter you do not want to encounter at speed.
West Virginia is the place where roadway deer collisions are most likely to occur. State Farm estimates that 1 in 42 drivers there will hit a deer in the next 12 months. Not good odds, especially if you’re a deer.
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.
Deer-vehicle collisions in the United States cause about 200 fatalities each year, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The average property damage cost of these incidents was $3,103, up 1.7 percent from a year ago. (Venison costs $7 to $30 depending on cut and quality.)
The map above indicates risk by state. Orange is the highest risk. Green the lowest risk. Speaking of lowest risk, drivers in Hawaii are least likely to encounter a deer, with odds at 1 in 13,011.
Tips to avoid deer collisions:
- Be aware of posted deer crossing signs. These are placed in active deer crossing areas for a reason.
- 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.
As a point of trivia, deer are red-green color blind—that is why they do not see orange hunting vests and camo clothing. However, they do see blue and purple well. This is something to keep in mind next time you buy a car, especially in West Virginia.
Learn more about car safety.