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Fall season means more deer crashes

October 3, 2013
The Daily News

The odds that an individual driver in the United States will crash into a deer during the next year have declined by 4.3 percent.

Using its claims data and state licensed driver counts from the Federal Highway Administration, State Farm Insurance, calculates the chances of any single American motorist striking a deer over the next 12 months at 1 in 174, compared with 1 in 167 the year before.

Among the 41 states where these confrontations are most likely, Michigan had the fourth largest descent (11.4 percent), dropping from 8th last year (likelihood of hitting a deer 1 in 81), to 10th place this year (likelihood 1 in 92).

While the odds have been reduced, there are still thousands of deer crashes in Michigan.

In fact, about 49,000 deer-vehicle crashes were reported to the Michigan State Police last year, down 8 percent from 2011 - and down 20 percent from 2009.

According to the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition, there is an average of 134 deer/vehicle crashes in the Great Lake State every day.

In 2012, Oakland County had the most deer/vehicle crashes, followed by Kent, Jackson, Montcalm, Lapeer, Ingham, Clinton, Ottawa, Huron and Eaton.

For the seventh year in a row, deer-vehicle confrontations are most probable in West Virginia. The chances of any single licensed driver in that state hitting a deer between now and a year from now are 1 in 41. That's an 8.3 percent improvement from the West Virginia likelihood ratio of a year ago.

Montana, (1 in 65) remains second on the likelihood list. Iowa (1 in 73) moves up one spot to third. South Dakota (1 in 75) drops from third to fourth. Pennsylvania (1 in 77) is still fifth.

In each of the top five states, the probability of a deer-related collision for any given vehicle is less than it was a year ago.

Wisconsin's ranking is No. 7, the same as a year ago.

Last year, Wisconsin law enforcement agencies reported a total of 18,895 deer vs. motor vehicle crashes, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Dane County had the most motor vehicle vs. deer crashes reported in 2012 with 851. Shawano County had the second most with 800 followed by Waukesha County with 710. In Shawano, Green Lake, and Taylor counties, more than half of all reported crashes in 2012 involved deer.

Deer are the third most commonly struck object in Wisconsin traffic crashes (behind collisions with another vehicle or a fixed object).

The state in which deer-vehicle mishaps are least likely is still Hawaii (1 in 6,787). The odds of a driver in Hawaii colliding with a deer between now and 12 months from now are approximately equal to the odds of a middle-of-the-pack National Football League team running off 13 wins in a row.

State Farm estimates 1.22 million collisions caused by the presence of deer between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013, a 3.5 percent decrease from a year ago.

And while the number of deer-related collisions in the U.S. over the last five years has increased by 2.0 percent, when you account for the increase in the number of drivers on the nation's roadways over that period, the likelihood of any one of those drivers being the victim of a deer-vehicle confrontation has dropped 2.5 percent.

"This data is encouraging," said Chris Mullen, Director-Strategic Resources. "We would like to think the attention we call to this issue each fall has had an impact. Obviously there are other factors at play as well."

Experts say November, the heart of the deer hunting and mating seasons, is the month during which deer-vehicle encounters are most likely.

Approximately 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 Feb. 1 and Aug. 31.

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 2012 and the first half of 2013 was $3,414, up 3.3 percent from the year before.

Here are tips from the safety experts on how to reduce the odds of a deer-vehicle confrontation:

- 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.

- Don't 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.

- The one exception to the "don't swerve" advice applies to motorcyclists. On a motorcycle, you should slow down, brake firmly and then swerve if necessary to avoid hitting the deer. If you must swerve, always try to stay within your lane to avoid hitting other objects.

- If you hit a deer, get your vehicle off the road if possible, and then call a law enforcement agency. Walking on a highway is dangerous, so stay in your vehicle if you can.

- Don't try to move the animal if it is still alive. The injured deer could hurt you.

 
 

 

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