SALT LAKE CITY - For the third consecutive year, the number of deer-vehicle collisions in the U.S. has dropped. And the downturn is accelerating. The percentage decline over the last year is nearly three times as large as during the previous two years combined. Utah is considered a medium risk state ranking 34th in comparison to other states in the U.S.
"In Utah the numbers have remained basically flat with the likelihood of a collision being one out of every 278 drivers," said State Farm spokeswoman Angela Thorpe. "We can't put our finger directly on what's causing a decline in deer-vehicle collisions across the country, but calling attention to potential hazards like this one is part of our DNA."
Using its claims data, State Farm estimates 1.09 million collisions between deer and vehicles* occurred in the U.S. between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011. That's 9 percent less than three years ago and 7 percent less than one year ago.
For the fifth year in a row, West Virginia tops the list of states where an individual driver is most likely to run in to a deer. Using its claims data in conjunction with state licensed driver counts from the Federal Highway Administration, State Farm calculates the chances of a West Virginia motorist striking a deer over the next 12 months at 1 in 53, an improvement over a year ago when the odds were 1 in 42.
The state in which deer-vehicle collisions are least likely is still Hawaii (1 in 6,267).
State Farm's data shows that November, the heart of the deer migration and mating season, 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 2010 and the first half of 2011 was $3,171, up 2.2 percent from the year before.
Here are tips on how to reduce the odds of a deer-vehicle collision:
* 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.