State Farm tallies odds of hitting a deer
North Dakota ranks 11th nationally among states where motorists are most likely to run into a deer, State Farm insurance company reported Tuesday.
The odds of hitting a deer in North Dakota are 1 in 105.3, State Farm said. That's slightly lower than last year, when North Dakota motorists faced 1 in 104 odds of hitting a deer. The ranking was unchanged.
State Farm uses claims data and state licensed-driver counts from the Federal Highway Administration to calculate the odds of hitting a deer.
For the sixth consecutive year, West Virginia topped the list with odds of 1 in 40, compared with 1 in 48 last year. South Dakota moved from third to second, with odds of 1 in 68.
Minnesota dropped from sixth to eighth -- a good thing, if you're a motorist or a deer -- with odds of 1 in 79.7. Iowa weighed in at third, with odds of 1 in 71.9, Michigan fourth at 1 in 72.4 and Pennsylvania rounding out the top five with odds of 1 in 76.
According to State Farm, the number of deer-related collisions nationally has increased by 7.7 percent over the past year, with odds rising from 1 in 183 to 1 in 171. That's about the same as the odds of being audited by the Internal Revenue Service next tax season, State Farm said.
By the numbers, State Farm estimated 1.23 million collisions caused by deer occurred in the United States from July 1, 2011, to June 30 of this year. The insurer projected 4,586 collisions during that time period in North Dakota and 41,165 deer-related accidents in Minnesota.
The two states had about 483,000 and 3.3 million drivers, respectively, in 2010.
In each of the top five states, the rate of deer-related collisions per driver increased from a year ago. The increase nationally comes despite an 8.5 percent decline in other claims, State Farm said.
"We have known for quite a while that the frequency of auto insurance claims has been declining," Chris Mullen, director of technology research for State Farm, said in a statement. "But whatever is causing that trend is obviously not impacting deer-related crashes."
The modest deer-collision declines in Minnesota and North Dakota coincide with lower deer populations in the two states, which have tightened regulations for this year's hunting seasons.
In North Dakota, the state Game and Fish Department this year offered only 65,300 deer licenses, nearly 45,000 fewer than 2011 and the lowest number since 1988. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources also lowered bag limits in most of the state's deer hunting units.
Reduce the risk
State Farm's data shows that November is the worst month for deer-vehicle collisions, with more than 18 percent of all accidents. Motorists are three times more likely to hit a deer in November than they are from February through March.
To reduce the odds of hitting a deer, the Insurance Information Institute offers the following tips:
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 from 6 to 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.