CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – A new study shows West Virginia has the highest rate of vehicle collisions involving animals.

According to State Farm, most animal-related collisions in the United States occur from October to December. While most collisions are with deer (67%), many other animals followed closely behind, such as dogs, cats, farm animals and large rodents.

West Virginia drivers have a 1 in 37 chance of colliding with an animal while driving, according to a press release. In 2019, State Farm had 7,721 auto claims for animal collisions in West Virginia.

Top 10 risk states:

  1. West Virginia
  2. Montana
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. South Dakota
  5. Michigan
  6. Wisconsin
  7. Iowa
  8. Mississippi
  9. Minnesota
  10. Wyoming
Courtesy: State Farm

Other highlights from the study:

  • During the coronavirus pandemic, certain months, particularly March, saw a 20% decrease (more than 70,000 claims) in animal collisions due to fewer drivers being on the road.
  • There were more than 1.96 million animal collision claims this past year.
  • U.S. drivers have a 1 in 116 chance of hitting an animal while driving.
  • 67% (1.3 million claims) of collisions are with deer.

The months drivers are most likely to collide with an animal in the U.S. are, in this order:

  1. November
  2. October
  3. December

National data include:

  • ​November peak month
    • ​Thanksgiving travel
    • 43,219 collisions with birds; 15,000 of those being turkeys
  • Deer remains with 67% of all animals and more than 1.55 million collisions
  • ​Farm animals: 33,007 (includes pigs, hogs, cows, goats, sheep, horses and donkeys)
  • The months of March, April and May 2020 had nearly 70,000 fewer animal collision claims than 2019
    • ​Almost a 20% decrease from last year (March, April, May)​
  • Pets (dogs and cats) combined for 102,051
  • 21,000+ claims involving large wild animals (bears, elk, moose, caribou, oxen, antelopes, wild boars) ​​

State Farm offers some animal collision safety tips:

  • Use extra caution and slow down in known animal crossing zones.
  • Slow down.  Reduce the vehicle’s speed and maintain a constant lookout for animals. Travel at a speed that will allow for stopping if an animal comes into the beam cast by the headlights
  • Dusk to dawn are high-risk times; use high beams when appropriate.
  • Scan the road and avoid swerving when seeing an animal. Brake firmly when noticing an animal in or near the driving path, but stay in the lane. Many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or lose control of the vehicle.
  • Always wear a seat belt. Safety belts saved an estimated 114,955 lives in 2017.

State Farm also has tips if a collision does happen:

  • Move the vehicle to a safe place: Pull to the side of the road and turn on the hazard lights.
  • Call police:  If an animal is blocking traffic, it could create a threat for other drivers.
  • Document:  Take photographs of the road, the surroundings and damage.
  • Stay away from the animal: A frightened, wounded animal could use its legs and hooves to harm someone. Do not attempt to move an animal.
  • Don’t assume the vehicle is safe to drive: Look for leaking fluid, loose parts, tire damage, broken lights and other hazards.
  • Contact the insurance company:  Quickly file an insurance claim.