CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – In the peak of deer collision season, drivers in West Virginia are at the highest risk in the nation for hitting animals.

A recent State Farm analysis revealed that over 2 million car and animal collisions happened in the U.S. from July of 2020 to June of 2021, which is a 7.2% increase from the previous year. Keep in mind that these numbers only include collisions that were claimed on insurance and are likely short of the true number of deer-related accidents.

West Virginia drivers have a 1 in 37 chance of being involved in an animal collision, which is the highest in the nation, just like last year. Other high-risk states are Montanna, South Dakota, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania, in which there is a 1 in 54 chance of an animal collision, reported the most animal accidents at 166,404.

Even though this number includes all animal and car collisions, deer are by the far the most frequent. 67% or 1.4 million of those accidents involved a deer collision. Other animals, including chickens, alligators, bats, cows, pigs, armadillos, bears, donkeys, eagles, horses, coyotes, owls, cats and dogs were also recorded in the total collisions.

State Farm warns that drivers should be particularly cautious when driving over the next few months; the highest rate of animal collisions occur in October, November and December. In order to reduce your risk of hitting an animal, follow these tips.

  • Reduce distractions, meaning put the cell phone away
  • Slow down, don’t speed
  • Scan the road for animals no matter where and when you’re driving
  • Pay attention to “deer crossing” and other animal signs
  • Be especially careful during deer hunting and mating season (October through December)
  • Be especially careful between dawn and dusk — when deer are most active
  • Watch for herds; if you see one deer, there are probably more nearby
  • If you see a deer in the road, flick your high beams or honk your horn to scare it away
  • If you can’t avoid hitting the animal, brake as necessary but do not swerve off the road
  • Stay in the center lane when you can, so you have more time to see the deer

Animal-caused accidents can be deadly to passengers, vehicles and animals. Exercise caution when driving this deer season.

If you do end up hitting an animal, take a deep breath, make sure you and your passengers are okay. If the animal is large and still there after you hit it, call 911 and do not approach it.