Bloomington, Ill., Oct. 8, 2008 -- For the second year in a row the vehicles most likely to collide with a deer are in West Virginia. Using its deer claims data from the last half of 2007 and the first half of 2008 and motor vehicle registration counts by state from the Federal Highway Administration, State Farm estimates the chances of a West Virginia vehicle colliding with a deer over the next 12 months at 1 in 45. Such a collision is even more likely in West Virginia than it was a year ago when the odds were 1 in 57.
The probability of a vehicle hitting a deer in West Virginia sometime in the next year is roughly two times greater than the possibility that you will be audited by the Internal Revenue Service in 2009 and 1,100 times greater than your chance of winning a state lottery grand prize if you buy one ticket per day for the next year.
Michigan remains second on the list. The likelihood of a specific vehicle striking a deer there next year is 1 in 78. Pennsylvania (1 in 97), Iowa (1 in 105) and Arkansas (1 in 108) each moved up one spot on the list to third, fourth and fifth respectively.
Deer-car accidents are a way of life in Michigan. There are over 60,000 of them each year and I'm lucky to be one of the few I know who have not gone had to have my truck go one on one with a deer. In Livingston County, the Argus reported the other day that 1 out of ever 5 accidents in the county are deer related. I'm not surprised as I see them all the time in October, and often see them any time of the year. The whole area near the Brighton Recreational Area is probably the most deer infested outside of Kensington Metro Park. The farm areas are common as well.
And the tips they give on driving.
1. Be aware of posted deer crossing signs. These are placed in active deer crossing areas.
2. Remember that deer are most active between 6 and 9 p.m.
3. Use high beam headlamps as much as possible at night to illuminate the areas from which deer will enter roadways.
4. Keep in mind that deer generally travel in herds – if you see one, there is a strong possibility others are nearby.
5. Do not rely on car-mounted deer whistles. They don’t work.
6. 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.
Deer whistles? Please don't tell me that someone actually bought one of those things?
The best way in my experience of avoiding deer wrecks is to first know the area. When I take the back roads to Ann Arbor, I expect to see a deer. Sometime even in city limits. I saw 10 deer yesterday. When I go to my mom and dad's house, I'm surprised when I do not see a deer. They roam their neighborhood. I saw four of them last time I was there. They were outside on the front lawn. Knowing the area prepares drivers. That's why I drive slowly on my dad's street. Something can pop out of the woods anytime, even at high noon. High beams also help, particulary on two lane rural roads such as North Territorial, parts of M-36, D-19, Coon Lake Road and Hamburg Road. As speeds are higher, I'd much rather see a deer on the side of the road to slow down quickly, than to have to slam on my breaks and pray as I did last time I was on 8 mile.
With increased development, more safety zones, suburbanites feeding the deer (which I strongly oppose as nature should fear people), and less hunting, particulary in Southern Michigan, this is only going to get more common as there are going to be even more deer with less predators. Heads up, gardeners.