(WHTM) — Have you ever hit a deer while driving? For many Pennsylvanians, the answer is yes.
According to State Farm data collected in 2022 and 2023, the likelihood of being in an animal collision in Pennsylvania was 1 in 59.
That makes Pennsylvania the state with the third highest risk for animal collisions following West Virginia (1 in 38) and Montana (1 in 53), according to State Farm. It is also one of 17 states that State Farm considers high risk for animal collisions.
As the largest car insurer in the U.S. State Farm estimates over 1.8 million auto insurance claims were issued across the industry from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023.
During that time period, Pennsylvania had the highest number of claims involving animal collisions nationwide with an estimated 153,397 claims, according to the company.
State Farm says the animals most often struck include deer, rodents, dogs, raccoons, and coyotes.
State Farm also says that the most dangerous months for animal collisions are November, October, and December, in that order.
According to the results of a survey the company issued, the most common scenario to hit wildlife is when driving on a “paved, rural road without much traffic and the sky is not quite dark.”
State Farm said that the survey results showed that 30% and 50% of drivers had accidents during those conditions.
Moreover, State Farm added that just one risky driving behavior, such as speeding or using your phone, can increase your chance of hitting an animal by 23%.
To help drivers avoid or handle animal collisions, the company offers the following tips.
- Slow down, especially if you see an animal near the road.
- Stay alert. Watch for animals at any time of the day or night.
- Pay attention to “deer crossing” and other animal signs.
- Reduce distractions. Put your phone away.
- Brake as necessary. If you can avoid hitting the animal, reduce your speed, honk your horn, and tap your brakes to warn other drivers.
- Don’t swerve. If you can’t avoid hitting the animal, maintain control of your vehicle and don’t veer off the road.
- Use high beams. Flashing your high beams on animals may make them run away.
- Be aware of peak season. Animal crashes, especially deer, are most common from October through December. This is hunting and mating season.
- Watch for animals on the road between dusk and dawn.
- Watch for herds. If you see a deer, there are probably more nearby.
State Farm adds that if you do hit an animal make sure you and any passengers with you are okay, call 911 if the animal is large and still there after the strike, and check if your vehicle is still drivable.
Once it is safe to do so take photos of your vehicle and if necessary file a claim.