Automakers spend lots of time and energy developing safety features to prevent their cars from colliding with pedestrians and other vehicles. But in many areas of the world, wildlife can pose a safety threat, too.
Here in the U.S., deer are particularly troublesome. Unlike squirrels and armadillos, they're big enough to cause serious damage to a vehicle. And unlike cattle, deer tend to move very, very quickly, jumping onto roadways in a flash.
Thankfully, according to State Farm, the number of deer being struck by motorists seems to be on the decline. Last year, the odds of a driver hitting a deer were 1 in 167. This year, the odds have fallen to 1 in 174. That's a drop of 4.3 percent.
Why the decline? State Farm doesn't know, but the company hopes it's because motorists have heeded safety tips like these:
- Keep in mind that deer generally travel in herds – if you see one, there is a strong possibility others are nearby.
- 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.
NOT OUT OF THE WOODS YET
Despite this encouraging news, deer collisions remain a major problem in the U.S. In fact, between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013, American motorists saw 1.22 million accidents involving deer.
Some of those collisions cost lives -- human lives and deer lives. At the very least, they resulted in sizable repair bills. The fix for such an accident now averages a whopping $3,414.
This reminder is timely, because we're entering the worst three months for deer collisions, thanks to the overlapping mating and hunting seasons. November is the worst month for such accidents, followed by October and December. The odds of hitting a deer are especially bad for motorists in these five states:
- West Virginia (odds of 1 in 41)
- Montana (1 in 65)
- Iowa (1 in 73)
- South Dakota (1 in 75)
- Pennsylvania (1 in 77)
Hawaiians, you have much less to worry about: the odds of you hitting a deer in the next 12 months are 1 in 6,787.
Our advice? Wherever you are, pay attention on the roads, especially in the early hours of the evening. And for those of you in high-risk states, be on the lookout for anti-collision systems that detect wildlife soon.