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 (second and third, respectively). These findings are not too surprising, when deer mating season is taken into consideration.
Of all U.S. motorists, those residing in West Virginia are most likely to encounter a deer while driving. For the sixth year in a row, West Virginia tops the list of states for 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 the year prior.
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.”
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.
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 insurer notes.
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.