Idaho Transportation

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P.O. Box 7129
Boise, ID 83707
Fax: 208.334.8563


Chances of vehicle/deer collision in Idaho
one in 305, insurance company says

Nevada odds makers would flock to Hawaii but go far out of their way to avoid West Virginia … if there were bets on the likelihood that a motor vehicle and deer would collide.

The chance of running into a deer in the island paradise is only one in 9,931.17. In West Virginia, however, the odds of a vehicle/deer collision in the next year are one in 39.17.

Idaho lands somewhere in the middle with odds of one in 305.07, according to study results issued this week by State Farm Insurance. The report indicates Idaho recorded 4,202 crashes from July 1, 2008, to June 30 of this year. Idaho had 1,281,899 vehicles registered as of November 2008, according to State Farm.

Of the six states bordering Idaho, the highest odds of a vehicle/deer collision is in Montana where there were 9,103 crashes for 948,528 vehicles. The odds of a deer/vehicle collision in Montana are one in 104.20.

Statistics for other surrounding states, according to the insurance company, are:

State Vehicle/deer crashes Registered vehicles Odds of collision
Oregon 10,300 crashes 3,088,313 vehicles one in 299.84 odds
Wyoming 3,549 crashes 652,102 vehicles one in 183.74 odds
Utah 5,729 crashes 2,320,171 vehicles one in 404.99 odds
Washington 10,773 crashes 5,757,943 vehicles one in 534.48 odds
Nevada 976 crashes 1,424,322 vehicles one in 1,459.35 odds

The State Farm Insurance report
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 Farm, 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).

More deer-vehicle collisions
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).

Likelihood of deer-vehicle collision
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.

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.

Avoiding deer-vehicle collisions
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.”

Following 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.

Published 10-2-09