A recent report released by State Farm Insurance indicates that collisions between cars and deer are on the rise in Missouri and Arkansas. According to the report, the state of Missouri was ranked #15 in the likelihood of having a collision with a deer in 2011-2012, up from #18 in 2010-2011. Similarly, Arkansas has seen an increase in deer/car collisions, jumping to a rank of #9 in 2011-2012 from a #13 rank in 2010-2011.
West Virginia ranked #1 this year: drivers there have one in 40 chance of being involved in a collision with a deer. And Hawaii was at the other end of the list, coming in at #50: residents have a one in 6,801 chance of hitting a deer. According to State Farm, "The odds of a driver in Hawaii colliding with a deer between now and 12 months from now are approximately equal to the odds that any one person will be struck by lightning during his or her lifetime."
However, nationwide, State Farm says deer/car collisions have increased by more than 7% this year. And the Insurance Journal reports that an estimated 1.23 million of deer/car crashes occurred between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012, resulting in more than $ billion in costs. Deer/car collisions caused an estimated 200 deaths in the U.S. every single year.
Here in Missouri, 3,563 drivers were involved in collisions with deer in 2011. That makes a deer was struck every 2.5 hours throughout the year. These accidents resulted in four fatalities and 367 injuries.
Collisions between cars and deer: A few basic safety tips
• As most Missourians know, deer tend to travel in large groups. Thus, if you see one, you should assume that others are in the vicinity and drive with extra caution.
• When you see a yellow "deer crossing" sign, you're being alerted that there's an active deer population in the area. Slow down, and keep your eyes open - especially in the evening hours between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., when deer are known to be most active.
• Use your high beams (when possible) to improve your visibility, especially on winding, rural roads where deer can suddenly enter the roadway from surprising angles.
• If it appears that you simply can't avoid a collision with a deer, most safety advocates agree that it's best to hit the animal than to attempt to avoid it by swerving suddenly. Often, such swerving leads to overcorrection, which can result in a rollover accident or a collision with a fixed object like a tree or light pole.
"Try to remain calm," said Col. Ron Replogle, superintendent of the Missouri Highway Patrol. "Panicking and overreacting usually lead to more serious traffic crashes. Please stay alert, and make sure you and the occupants of your vehicle buckle up."