Car-Deer accidents on the rise

Law enforcement agencies in Upper Michigan report car-deer accidents are on the increase.  That trend is apparently statewide:  in Michigan, your likelihood of bumper meeting antler has gone up according to State Farm. Using its claims data and state licensed driver counts from the Federal Highway Administration, State Farm calculates the chances of a Michigan motorist striking a deer over the next 12 months at 1 in 72, compared with 1 in 83 the year before.* For the sixth year in a row, West Virginia tops the list of states where an individual driver is most likely to run into a deer, with those odds at 1 in 40.

The findings come after a recent report from the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition showing deer crashes in the Great Lakes state actually declined in 2011 from 2010 by about four percent.  However, officials note that many crashes also go unreported, so actual crash numbers are much higher. The coalition reports the five counties with the most reported crashes were: Kent (1,750), Oakland (1,736), Jackson (1,536), Calhoun (1,429) and Montcalm (1,340).
State Farm’s data shows that November is the month during which deer-vehicle encounters are most likely.  More than 18 percent of all such mishaps take place during the 30 days of November.
Deer-vehicle collisions are three times more likely to occur on a day in November than they are on any day between February 1st and August 31st.  October is the second most likely month for a crash involving a deer and a vehicle.  December is third.
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.
According to the State Farm data, 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.
The number of deer-related collisions in the U.S. has increased by 7.7 percent over the last year.  This jump comes after a three year period during which these collisions dropped 2.2 percent.
State Farm estimates 1.23 million collisions caused by the presence of deer occurred 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 the nation’s leading auto insurer has increased 7.9 percent while other similar auto claims** have declined 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.  “But whatever is causing that trend is obviously not impacting deer-related crashes.”
“State Farm has a long history of supporting auto safety,” said Mullen.  “Calling attention to hazards like this one is part of our DNA.”
Here are tips from the Insurance Information Institute on how to reduce the odds of a deer-vehicle confrontation involving your vehicle becoming part of the story we tell next year:
  • Keep in mind that deer generally travel in herds – if you see one, there is a strong possibility others are nearby.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Don’t rely on car-mounted deer whistles.