Oh, Buck! Study says deer-automobile accident rate up by 18% over last 5 years

What do New Jersey and Nebraska have in common? If you said "absolutely nothing," you'd be right – on any other day but today. Turns out that the Garden State and the Cornhusker State share a very curious stat. Both have seen a 54% increase in deer-related automobile accidents over the last two years. That 54% increase is the largest in the nation, which shows that the problem of deer-related car crashes isn't confined to just one location, but rather a national problem.

According to a new State Farm study, the number of cars on the road has grown by 7% over the last five years, but the number of deer-related accidents has swelled 18% in that same time period. No reason why is given in the article, but we'd wager it's a combination of 1) more deer and 2) more and more humans living closer to deer populations. The study does, however, provide some pretty eye-opening statistics.

For examples, State Farm estimates that between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2009 there were 2.4 million accidents in the United States involving venison deer. In other words, that's one deer-car mashup every 26 seconds. The worst state for smashing into a deer is and remains West Virginia, where your odds of making contact with a Bambi-like creature are 1 in 39. Michigan remains second most deer-dangerous, though is twice as safe as West Virginia (odds are 1 in 78 that you'll make contact with a deer). And Montana has moved up three places in the rankings, from eighth to fifth. The safest state? Hawaii, where your odds shrink to about 1 in 10,000. Full press release with all the stats after the jump.

[Source: State Farm | Image: Hulton/Getty]


Deer-Vehicle Collision Frequency Jumps 18 Percent in Five Years


BLOOMINGTON, Ill., Sept. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- The number of vehicles on U.S. roadways has grown by 7 percent over the last five years. But the number of times those vehicles have collided with deer has swelled by much more than that.

Using its claims data, State Farm®, the nation's leading auto insurer estimates 2.4 million collisions between deer and vehicles occurred in the U.S. during the two-year period between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2009 (100,000 per month). That's 18.3 percent more than five years earlier. To put it another way, one of these unfortunate encounters occurs every 26 seconds (although they are much more likely during the last three months of the year and in the early evening).


Among the 35 states where at least 7,000 deer-vehicle collisions occur per year (we are not including the percentage changes in the other 15 states plus D.C. because the lower volume of total collisions makes the percentage changes less credible), New Jersey and Nebraska have posted the largest increases, 54 percent. Kansas is next at 41 percent. Deer-vehicle collisions have jumped by 38 percent in Florida, Mississippi and Arkansas. Then come Oklahoma (34 percent) and West Virginia, North Carolina and Texas (33 percent).


For the third year in a row, West Virginia tops the list of those states where a collision with a deer is most likely (for any one vehicle). Using its claims data in conjunction with state motor vehicle registration counts from the Federal Highway Administration, State Farm calculates the chances of a West Virginia vehicle striking a deer over the next 12 months at 1 in 39. Such an encounter is even more likely in West Virginia than it was a year ago.

Michigan remains second on that list. The likelihood of a specific vehicle striking a deer there is 1 in 78. Pennsylvania (1 in 94) and Iowa (1 in 104) remain third and fourth respectively. Montana (1 in 104) moved up three places to fifth.

Arkansas and South Dakota each dropped a spot to sixth and seventh. Wisconsin remains eighth. North Dakota and Virginia round out the top 10.

The state in which deer-vehicle collisions are least likely is still Hawaii (1 in 9,931). The odds of any one vehicle hitting a deer in Hawaii during the next year are roughly equivalent to the odds of randomly picking a piece of clover and finding it has four leaves.

The average property damage cost of these incidents was $3,050, up 3.4 percent from a year ago.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, deer-vehicle collisions in the U.S. cause more than 150 fatalities each year.


These collisions are more frequent during the deer migration and mating season in October, November and December. The combination of growing deer populations and the displacement of deer habitat caused by urban sprawl are producing increasingly hazardous conditions for motorists and deer.

"State Farm has been committed to auto safety for several decades and that's why we want to call attention to potential hazards like this one," said Laurette Stiles, State Farm Vice President of Strategic Resources. "We hope our updated information will inspire motorists to make safe decisions."

Here are tips on how to reduce the chances that a deer-vehicle collision involving your vehicle will be part of the story we tell in next year's version of this news release:

-- Be aware of posted deer crossing signs. These are placed in active
deer crossing areas.
-- 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.

About State Farm

State Farm® insures more cars and homes than any other insurer in the U.S., is the leading insurer of watercraft and is also a leading insurer in Canada. State Farm's 17,700 agents and 68,600 employees serve 81 million policies and accounts - more than 78.7 million auto fire, life and health policies in the United States and Canada, and more than 1.9 million bank accounts. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 31 on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit statefarm.com® or in Canada statefarm.ca®.

Source: State Farm

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