MARYLAND — Drivers in the United States have a 1 in 116 chance of striking a deer or other animal, State Farm found in its 18th annual deer-vehicle collision study released this week. Deer — especially frisky bucks looking for a mate from October through December — create hazards on roads across the country.
Maryland is considered a medium risk state for animal collisions. Drivers in Maryland have a 1 in 107 chance of colliding with an animal on the road, the insurance company said.
Sixty-seven percent of the more than 1.96 million animal collisions from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020, involved deer, according to data from State Farm’s insurance records. Collisions involving dogs, cats, farm animals, large wild animals and large rodents were also included in the study.
West Virginia is the state with the greatest likelihood of animal collisions for the 14th year in a row, the study shows. There’s a 1 in 37 chance of a driver hitting a deer or other animal in the Mountaineer State. In 2019, State Farm had 7,721 auto claims for animal collisions in West Virginia.
Montana, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Mississippi, Minnesota and Wyoming were the other states in the top 10.
On the flip side, Hawaii is the state where it’s least likely for a driver to hit an animal, with a reported rate there of 1 in 642. California and Arizona are the second and third least-likely states for animal collisions.
The first three months of the coronavirus pandemic marked nearly a 20 percent decrease in animal collision insurance claims from the same period a year ago, State Farm found in the study. Most animal-related crashes in the United States occur in October, November and December, which is consistent with numbers from the study in previous years.
Maryland Department of Natural Resources officials say drivers can try to steer clear of deer collisions by taking these steps:
Be extra attentive in the early morning and evening periods.
Gradually brake to avoid hitting a deer; do not swerve since this may cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
Slow down if a deer crosses the road ahead of you. Deer often travel in groups and others may be nearby.
Stay alert and slow down in areas where deer crossing signs are posted. These indicate locations of frequent deer activity.
Watch the shoulder of the road. Be alert for deer standing along the shoulder as they may suddenly move into the roadway. Slow down and sound your horn to scare them away.
State Farm also offered tips to avoid hitting deer, although those steps aren't anything you shouldn't already be taking.
Always buckle up — every trip, every time.
Use your high beams to see farther, except when there is oncoming traffic.
Remain focused on the road. Scan for potential dangers, including animals.
Avoid distractions. Devices or eating might cause you to miss seeing an animal.
Do not rely on products such as deer whistles. They are not proven effective.
If riding a motorcycle, always wear protective gear. Keep focused on the road ahead.
High-frequency whistles on your vehicle aren't going to help you much, according to researchers at the University of Georgia, who tested a variety of sounds at different frequencies and intensities to see how deer reacted.
Their conclusion: Though some people swear by them, deer whistles don't change the animals' behavior.
There's also some debate on how much honking helps. It can't hurt, but it may not help, either.