The odds that a South Carolina driver will hit a deer in the coming year are almost twice the national average, according to a new report.
State Farm Insurance on Monday released findings from its national claims data on deer-vehicle collisions. The report calculates a South Carolina driver has a 1 out of 93 chance of hitting a deer over the next 12 months– tenth-highest among all states measured. The national average is a 1 in 169 chance. At least 175 people were killed in collisions with deer in 2012, according to the report.
State Farm spokesman Justin Tomczak said the state’s rural nature and large deer populations are likely explanations. “You have a higher concentration of deer in the southeastern United States,” Tomczak told South Carolina Radio Network. “The second thing is, there’s higher population density. If you look at the population of a South Carolina or Georgia versus Wyoming, you’ve got a lot more people here.”
West Virginia topped the list at 1 in 39 odds. Hawaii drivers are least likely to hit a deer, at more than 10,200-to-1 chances.
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources deer and turkey program coordinator Charles Ruth said deer population estimates are down in South Carolina compared to peak levels in the late 1990s and deer-vehicle collisions have declined during that time.
“This is good news for motorists,” Ruth said in a statement. “Another important perspective is that deer are naturally much more abundant in the eastern United States, particularly in the southeast. With that in mind South Carolina’s high national rank is less worrisome when compared to states with similar deer populations.”
Tomczak said the most likely months for a collision to occur are all between October and December, with November being the highest risk. He said it’s no coincidence that more crashes occur during mating season.
“(Deer) are more active in the fall due to the mating season,” he said. “Then, if you look at time of day, they’re most active at night, first thing in the morning, and right as the sun is getting ready to go down.”
The State Farm report notes the average claim from a deer-involved collision is about $3,888, up nearly 14 percent from 2013. The agency recommends drivers be on the lookout for deer in the roadway at dusk, morning, and night, drive with high-intensity beams on rural roads if no other cars are coming the other direction, and avoid swerving if a deer is in the road in front of you.