NU Online News Service, Oct. 11, 3:40 p.m. EDT
With deer breeding season in full swing, state officials and insurers are warning motorist to be aware of increased activity as figures indicate the number of collisions between deer and vehicles is on the rise.
In Ohio, officials are warning drivers to be on the watch for increased activity as the state recorded a 2.3 percent increase in deer-vehicle crashes in 2009.
Nationally, Bloomington, Ill.-based insurer State Farm said its data shows that the number of collisions between deer and vehicles has increased 10 times over the 2 percent increase in miles driven by U.S. motorists in the past five years.
The Ohio Insurance Institute, along with three other state agencies, said the risk of colliding with a deer is greater during the deer-breeding season, which runs from October through January.
The Ohio Department of Public Safety reported that there were 25,146 deer-vehicle crashes in 2009, up from 24,590 the previous year. Both figures are down from 26,304 in 2007.
There were four fatalities and 1,004 injuries from such crashes in the state last year, compared to six fatalities and 979 injuries in 2008. In 2007 there were 10 fatalities and 1,022 injuries.
According to State Farm, the company estimates there were 2.3 million collisions between deer and vehicles during a two year period ending June 30, 2010, which was a 21.1 percent increase over the earlier five years.
State Farm said that for the fourth year in a row, West Virginia tops the list of states where a driver is most likely to collide with a deer. A driver in that state has a 1 in 42 chance of colliding with a deer over the next 12 months. Iowa is second on the list with a 1 in 67 chance of a driver striking a deer. Michigan is third with 1 in 70; South Dakota fourth with 1 in 75, and Montana fifth with a 1 in 82 chance.
The least likely place for a motorist to hit a deer is Hawaii where the chances are 1 in 13,011.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said deer-vehicle collisions in the U.S. cause about 200 fatalities a year.
Among the things drivers can do to avoid hitting a deer are to be aware of signs indicating deer crossings; remember that deer are most active between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.; use high beam headlamps as much as possible at night; and if you see one deer there may be more because they travel in herds.