Ah, fall: That magical time of year for apple picking, foliage tours, pumpkin spice lat…AUUGHGHGH WHY IS THERE A DEER ON MY HOOD?!
According to the number-crunchers at State Farm Insurance, the average American driver has a 1 in 116 chance of plowing into some kind of large wilderness creature every time they venture out in the car, especially in the months of October, November and December. Approximately 1.9 million Americans filed insurance claims after a large animal strike between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019.
“Claims after collisions with an animal range from small dents to totaled vehicles and injured drivers and passengers,” says Michael Braaten, State Farm’s director of Enterprise Research.
And it’s not just deer, either.
From the data compiled by State Farm, in 2016 study in rural southwest Virginia recorded 1,837 cases of road kill. Those flattened fauna included:
- 1,415 mammals
- 188 birds
- 105 reptiles
- 122 domestic animals
- seven frogs
[Ed. Note: Which one of you seven maniacs called your insurance company because you ran over a frog?]
It’s important to realize that the 1 in 116 chance of hitting an animal this time of year is just an average. If you live in certain states, you’re at greater risk. MUCH GREATER.
For example, among the New England states, Maine seems to be a particular hot spot for animal strikes. In New Hampshire, the chances were relatively low at 1 in 152. Cross the border into the Pine Tree State and your risk skyrockets to 1 in 84.
PRO TIP for Mainers: Maybe rethink putting such an attractive moose on the license plate.
As hazardous as Maine is, that 1 in 84 number doesn’t even place it in the top 10.
Our crack staff of statisticians quickly began to recognize a few patterns in the top 10.
For example, FORTY PERCENT of the states in the top 10 begin with the letter M. Coincidence?
Also, take a look at the number 7 and 8 spots. If you happen to live in a state that looks remotely like a mitten, BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR ANIMALS.
The most likely place where you’ll tag an animal — by far — is West Virginia. If you’re driving around in that state, you have a 1 in 38 chance of striking an animal. Think about that. You drive back and forth to work approximately 500 times a year. That means you’re hitting an animal approximately every Tuesday.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Florida residents have a 1 in 409 chance of hitting an animal (most likely an alligator, flamingo or velociraptor).
To place that into perspective, State Farm provided a few other occurrences to compare. For example, you have a 1 in 175 chance of getting audited by the IRS, and a 1 in 215 chance of dating a millionaire (which, frankly, should increase your chance of being audited by the IRS.
“By sharing ways to help drivers be aware of the increased dangers this time of year – including inclement weather, shorter periods of daylight and students driving home after evening activities – State Farm hopes to help decrease the number of collisions and injuries,” says State Farm’s Braaten.
To avoid hitting animals, the auto insurer has some tips:
- Stay Alert. Pay attention to “deer crossing” and other signs and be cautious in areas near woods or water.
- Use High Beams. Flicking your high beams on a deer in the road may cause the animal to scurry away. High beams also help illuminate dark roads.
- Don’t Swerve. If an animal-car crash is inevitable, maintain control of your vehicle and don’t veer off the road.
- Brake as Necessary. If you can avoid hitting the animal, reduce your speed, honk your horn, and tap your brakes to warn other drivers. If there are no drivers behind you, brake hard.
- Remember Peak Season. Deer crashes happen most during October through December, which is hunting and mating season. Collisions are most likely to happen in West Virginia, Montana, Pennsylvania and South Dakota.
- Remember Meal Time. Watch for animals in the road between dusk and dawn.
- Watch for Herds. If you see one deer, there are probably more nearby.
- Don’t Use a Whistle. No scientific evidence supports that car-mounted deer whistles work.
- Wear Seat Belts. Always obey speed limits and wear seat belts.
Keep an eye open for wildlife this fall and make sure all your vehicle’s functions are working properly. It’s getting dangerous out there.