Reporter’s Notebook BY CHRISTINA BRAMLET
Deer Collisions Leap Nearly 8 Percent
HOW STATES RANK
South Dakota jumped from third place
to second place in the past year for the
top 13 states listed by likelihood that its
residents will experience a deer-vehicle
collision, according to State Farm.
1 West Virginia
2 South Dakota
K North Dakota
The average property damage cost of
these incidents during the final half of
2011 and the first half of 2012 was $3,305,
up 4. 4 percent from the year before.
The number of deer-related auto collisions in the U.S. has increased by 7. 7 percent over the last year, according
to State Farm. The nation’s leading auto
insurer reports this jump follows a three-year period during which such collisions
dropped 2. 2 percent.
Drivers gearing up for holiday travel
should be on high alert, as November is
the month when deer-vehicle encounters
are most likely. In fact, State Farm’s claims
data shows more than 18 percent of all
deer-related automotive mishaps take
place during November, with October and
December trailing closely behind with the
second and third highest number of crashes, respectively. These findings are not too
surprising, when deer mating patterns are
taken into consideration.
According to State Farm’s data, the
presence of deer caused an estimated
1.23 million collisions in the U.S. between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012.
The probability that any single licensed
driver in the U.S. was behind the wheel
during one of those 1.23 million crashes
also increased from 1 in 183 to 1 in 171,
approximately equal to the odds that you
will be audited by the Internal Revenue
Service next tax season.
Over the last four years, the number
of deer-related claims paid by State Farm
has increased 7. 9 percent, while other
similar auto claims decreased 8. 5 percent.
“We have known for quite a while that
the frequency of auto insurance claims has
been declining,” said Chris Mullen, director, technology research at State Farm.
“But whatever is causing that trend is obviously not impacting deer-related crashes.”
Where The Wild Things Are
In terms of a geographic breakdown
for deer-related auto claims, South Dakota moved from third to second on the list.
The likelihood of a licensed driver in that
state hitting a deer within the next year
is 1 in 68. Iowa (1 in 71.9) dropped from
second to third. Michigan (1 in 72.4) is a
close fourth jumping one position from
fifth. Pennsylvania (1 in 76) slipped one
spot to fifth place. In each of the top five
states the rate of deer-related collisions
per driver increased from a year ago, the
The state in which deer-vehicle mishaps
are least likely is still Hawaii (1 in 6,801).
The odds of a driver in Hawaii colliding
with a deer between now and 12 months
from now are approximately equal to the
odds that any one person will be struck by
lightning during his or her lifetime. K
Wild West Virginia
Of all U.S. motorists, those residing in
West Virginia are most apt to encounter a
deer while manuevering the road. For the
sixth year in a row, West Virginia tops the list
of states for the most deer-driver confrontations. Drawing upon its claims data and
state-licensed driver counts from the Federal
Highway Administration (FHA), State Farm
estimates the likelihood of a West Virginian
striking a deer with his or her vehicle over
the next 12 months is about 1 in 40, compared with 1 in 48 just one year prior.
With deer on the move—especially this month—many states and localities across the nation
are taking extra precautions to reduce the number of antlered animals wandering into traffic.
Utah wildlife officials reported in October that two new crossing structures have safely
allowed more than 300 deer to cross under busy northern Utah roads, in turn reducing the
number of deer fatalities and automotive crashes.
Utah State University researchers have been monitoring a culvert in Box elder County since
2009. Initially deer were not using it as much as scientists hoped, but changes in a fence
design have improved the flow of animal traffic. Officials counted 284 deer using the culvert to
cross the highway in Sardine Canyon during the first six months of the year. In addition, county
officials report that a new pathway under a bridge at Summit County’s echo Junction has been
used by about 60 deer in its first six months.