As fog cleared off the river, two deer bounded into the tall grass near the road. It’s not an uncommon sight for many drivers, especially in October, November, and December. New data shows a decline in deer collisions, however, the average cost of property damage increased.
U.S. drivers were less likely, 1 in 167, to have a claim involving a collision with deer, elk, moose, or caribou than they did the past year (1 in 162), according to the State Farm® annual deer collision study. The company estimates collisions dropped slightly to 1.33 million in the U.S. between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018— down from 1.34 million in 2017. When crashes did occur, they were costly for drivers, with a national cost per claim average of $4,341, up from $4,179 in 2017.
Where are Deer Collisions Most Likely?
West Virginia continues to top the list of states where an individual driver is most likely to run into a deer. Some good news for West Virginian's though, this year while West Virginia continues to be No. 1 on the top 10 list, the likelihood of having an insurance claim involving a deer was 1 in 46 — down three points from last year.
Montana (one in 57 chance of a crash), Pennsylvania (one in 63 chance of a crash), and Wisconsin also remain at the top of list. Rounding out the top 10 states where drivers are most likely to collide with large animals like deer, elk, moose or caribou are Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Wyoming, and Mississippi. The months drivers are most likely to collide with a large animal in the U.S. are (in order) November, October, and December.
How Can You Avoid Deer in Your Headlights?
The growing deer and other animal populations combined with the displacement of animal habitats are making it more dangerous on the road, and making driver crashes more likely.
There's no real way to keep large animals like deer, moose, and elk off the road, but these important safety tips can help prevent animal-car collisions.
Tips to Avoid Animals in the Road
- Stay Alert. Pay attention to 'deer crossing' signs and be cautious in areas near woods or water.
- Use High Beams. Flicking your high beams on a deer in the road may cause the animal to scurry away. High beams also help illuminate dark roads.
- Don't Swerve. If a deer-car crash is inevitable, maintain control of your vehicle and don't veer off the road.
- Brake as Necessary. If you can avoid hitting the animal, reduce your speed, honk your horn, and tap your brakes to warn other drivers. If there are no drivers behind you, brake hard.
- Remember Peak Season. Deer crashes happen most during October through December, which is hunting and mating season. Collisions are most likely to happen in West Virginia, Iowa, Montana, and Pennsylvania.
- Remember Meal Time. Watch for animals in the road between dusk and dawn.
- Watch for Herds. If you see one deer, there are probably more nearby.
- Don't Use a Whistle. No scientific evidence supports that car-mounted deer whistles work.
- Wear Seat Belts. Always obey speed limits and wear seat belts.