When State Farm released its data on collisions between cars and deer, I was a little miffed that Texas didn’t make the top ten. I was raised with injunctions to “watch the bar ditch” long before I ever took the wheel on my own. Stories of mishaps between errant whitetail and moving vehicles are legion in my state.
In truth, the likelihood of mowing down Bambi in the Lone Star State in the coming year is just 1 in 399.97. I’m a gambler and I can tell you, those are pretty long odds. I’ve bet on a lot of gray horses at race tracks, but even I wouldn’t consider that a long shot worth taking.
Now, if you live in West Virginia? Pay your auto insurance premiums and watch the side of the road like a hawk. You live in the state that has captured top “deer crash” status for four years running and your chance of getting involved in such a collision yourself is 1 in 42. Other states with high rates include:
– Iowa, 1 in 67
– Michigan, 1 in 70
– South Dakota, 1 in 76
– Montana, 1 in 82
The remaining “top ten” include Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Arkansas, and Minnesota. (Drivers in Hawaii, be of good cheer. Your odds are 1 in 13,011.)
While these crashes rarely turn out well for the animal, you’re also looking at damages averaging $3,101. The worst months are during the mating season in October, November, and December between the hours of 6-9 p.m.
Pay attention to the warning signs. Drive with high beams when you can, and remember deer travel in herds. If one crosses the road, there’s another on the way. If you are forced to hit a deer, and sometimes it is inevitable, try for a solid strike. Glancing blows cause more damage to the vehicle. Above all else, do not approach a wounded deer. You will be the one who walks away bloody. Their hooves are like razor blades and when they’re frightened, they fight.
And the deer whistles and other such gadgets? They don’t work. There’s no replacement for good driving and vigilant awareness behind the wheel.