Featured Articles

Move Over, Swine Flu? America in Grips of Deer-Collision Epidemic

Posted in Bizarre, Newsworthy, Press Release, Road Trips, Roads, Safety, Travel by Alex Kierstein | September 28th, 2009 | 1 Response |

deer truck copy

Did you know that, in the United States, some luckless motorist slams into an unwitting Bambi every 26 seconds? That adds up to more than a million incidents a year … the roads are running red with the blood of cute, innocent woodland animals. Worst of all, the average cost of such an accident is now over $3,000 … What’s going on? Our tin-foil hat theory: Al Qaeda agents have infiltrated our national forests and are hell-bent on destroying our decadent infidel way of life by tossing wildlife at our indulgent BMWs. For the skeptics, click through for more.

Despite our sardonic tone, deer collisions are a real (and at several grand a pop, an expensive) and growing (up 18.3% from last year, even though vehicles on the road have only increased by 7%) problem. State Farm commissioned the study to track the issue, and they attribute the increased prevalence of deer-vs-car incidents to “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.” This seems to be the largest problem in West Virginia and Michigan, who top the list of problem states. At least the upshot to the whole problem is a reliable source of “free-range” venison. Just don’t tell PETA about it.

Press Release

Deer-Vehicle Collision Frequency Jumps 18 Percent in Five Years


BLOOMINGTON, Ill., Sept. 28 /PRNewswire/ — 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 FarmĀ®, the nation’s leading auto insurer estimates 2.4 million collisions between deer and vehicles 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 (we are 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).

U.S. map showing percentage change in deer-vehicle collisions by state


For the third year in a row, West Virginia tops the list of those states where 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 at 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.

Arkansas and South Dakota each dropped a spot to sixth and seventh. Wisconsin remains eighth. North Dakota and Virginia round out the top 10.

The state in which deer-vehicle collisions are least likely is still Hawaii (1 in 9,931). The odds of any one vehicle hitting a deer in Hawaii during the next year are roughly equivalent to the odds of randomly picking a piece of clover and finding it has four leaves.

U.S. map showing likelihood of deer-vehicle collision by state
Chart listing likelihood of vehicle-deer collision by state

The average property damage cost of these incidents was $3,050, up 3.4 percent from a year ago.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, deer-vehicle collisions in the U.S. cause more than 150 fatalities each year.


These collisions are more frequent during the deer migration and mating season 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.

“State Farm has been committed to auto safety for several decades and that’s why we want to call attention to potential hazards like this one,” said Laurette Stiles, State Farm Vice President of Strategic Resources. “We hope our updated information will inspire motorists to make safe decisions.”

Here are tips on how to reduce the chances that a deer-vehicle collision involving your vehicle will be part of the story we tell in next year’s version of this news release:

— 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.
— Do not 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.

Our Best Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

One Response

  1. Reportedly, in Sweden and American’s state of Maine, there are so many collisions between automobiles and moose (no plural), that SAAB conducted – or did last heard from – a test between their cars and a faux moose. SAAB wanted to ensure crush zones sufficient for the survival of the human occupants of its cars – at the very least.

    Considering the damage that can be done – fatalities on both sides of the equation – it is no wonder such research takes place.

    In other places around the states – northeastern Washington state comes to mind – you can round a corner and find yourself looking straight into the eyes of a deer.

    That happened to me once, on my way between Winthrop and Twisp, Washington, on my way to work at a small newspaper in the latter town. Fortunately, I wasn’t going particularly fast and the car I was driving – a ’72 Volvo sedan – had four-wheel disc brakes; that did their job, when I did mine.

    That deer looked at me a bit, and then ambled off.

    Would that all interchanges between deer, moose and automobiles driven by we humans were so benign.