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Reduce speed and stay alert to help avoid animal collisions

For drivers in Mississippi, there is a 1 in 59 chance of being involved in a collision with a deer or other animal according to a report released recently by State Farm.

That chance ranks Mississippi eighth in the nation.

On average, U.S. drivers have a 1 in 116 chance of a collision with an animal. There were over 1.9 million animal collision insurance claims in the U.S. between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020.

West Virginia (1-in-37) again tops the list, followed by Montana (1-in-47) and Pennsylvania. (1-in-51). South Dakota and Michigan round out the top five, followed by Wisconsin, Iowa, Mississippi, Minnesota and Wyoming.

The large majority of animal collisions are with deer. For the year July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020, there were estimated to be 1.5 million deer claims industry-wide.

“Claims after collisions with an animal range from small dents to totaled vehicles and injured drivers and passengers,” says Michael Braaten, director, Enterprise Research. “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.”

Hawaii (1-in-649), Nevada (1-in-551) and California (1-in-427) are the states where drivers have the least chance of an animal collision.

 

How can you avoid deer in your headlights?

Growing deer and other animal populations combined with the displacement of animal habitats are making animal crashes more likely. There’s no real way to keep large animals like deer off the road, but these safety tips can help you prevent animal-car collisions.

  • 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 the hunting and mating season. 
  • Remember meal time. Watch for animals on the road between dusk and dawn.
  • Watch for herds. If you see one deer, there are probably more nearby.
  • Don’t rely on a whistle. No scientific evidence supports that car-mounted deer whistles work.
  • Wear seat belts. Always obey speed limits and wear seat belts.