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 estimates 2.4 million collisions of vehicles with a deer 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 (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 states in which 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 to be 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.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, deer-vehicle collisions in the U.S. cause more than 150 human fatalities each year.
These collisions are more frequent during the deer migration and mating seasons 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.
The average property damage cost of these incidents during this period was $3,050.