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Deer Collisions on the Rise - State Farm Provides Avoidance Tips

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author photo by Autotrader November 2010

“Doe, a deer, a female deer,” goes the children’s song. For fall drivers in rural areas, where deer breed prolifically in the fall, perhaps the next line should begin with “Buck.” In the “typical fall sequence,” reports the New York Times, drivers slam on the brakes when they see a bounding doe, only to crash, moments later, into a buck in hot pursuit. Deer mating season is October through December, with collisions peaking in November.

Numbering some 2.3 million in the past two years, according to State Farm Insurance estimates, collisions between cars and deer are up some 21 percent compared to five years ago. Some experts put the actual number of collisions (reported and unreported) as high as two million per year. While the vast majority of injuries are borne by deer, about two hundred human fatalities per year – not to mention billions in car repair and medical costs – also result.

West Virginia is the state where collisions are most likely; drivers there have a 1 in 42 chance of hitting a deer in the next 12 months. This marks West Virginia’s fourth year as the highest deer collision state in the U.S. Iowa is second, with a 1 in 67 chance. Michigan is third, followed by South Dakota and Montana at fourth and fifth, respectively.

Swelling deer populations forced out of their natural habitat by suburban sprawl, surmises State Farm, are the biggest contributors to the increase in collisions. To avoid being a victim, the insurance agency recommends against relying on car-mounted deer whistles and instead offers these tips:

  •   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.
  •   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.
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Deer Collisions on the Rise - State Farm Provides Avoidance Tips - Autotrader