Deer-vehicle collisions in the United States fell for the third consecutive year, says an annual State Farm report released Oct. 3.
The insurance company estimates 1.1 million collisions between deer and vehicles occurred from July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011 -- 9 percent fewer than three years ago and 7 percent fewer than one year ago.
No one really knows why the number of accidents has fallen.
"While we can't put our finger directly on what's causing a decline in deer-vehicle collisions, we'd like to think media attention to our annual report on this subject has had at least a little bit to do with it," said Laurette Stiles, vice president of strategic resources, in a media statement.
Vermont, Michigan, West Virginia and Connecticut all saw declines of 22 percent or more in the number of deer-vehicle collisions.
Drivers in West Virginia are the most likely to hit a deer, according to a State Farm analysis of its own claims data and Federal Highway Administration state licensed driver counts. The chance of striking a deer in the next 12 months in West Virginia is 1 in 53, an improvement over last year when the odds were 1 in 42.
Others among the five states where deer-vehicle collisions are most likely are:
• Iowa, where the odds are 1 in 77 of hitting a deer in the next year
• South Dakota, 1 in 81
• Pennsylvania, 1 in 86
• Michigan, 1 in 90
The risk is lowest in Hawaii, where the odds of striking a deer while driving are 1 in 6,267.
November, the peak of deer migration and mating season, is the riskiest time of year for deer-vehicle encounters. More than 18 percent of all such accidents occur during the month. The average property damage cost of deer-vehicle collisions during the final half of 2010 and the first half of 2011 was $3,171, up 2.2 percent from the year before, State Farm said.
Such damage is covered under the comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy.