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Development & Transportation

No Surprise? Deer Crashes More Likely in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania drivers have the fourth highest odds of hitting deer in the United States, according to an annual report from State Farm. The insurance company calculated that drivers have a one in 86 chance of hitting a deer in the next year, although those odds are down from last year.

According to PennDOT, there were about 14,000 deer-strike crashes between 2006 and 2010. More than 3,100 people were injured and 43 killed in those accidents.

Doug Griffith, spokesman for State Farm in Western Pennsylvania, said people need to stay alert and acknowledge deer crossing signs. "They are typically most active between six and nine at night. When it is possible, you should use your high beams to help illuminate the areas where deer enter the roadways," said Griffith. "You know the old 'deer in the headlights' look, and that's exactly what happens, is they tend to stop and look at the headlights, but they do tend to run away if you flash your lights at them."

He said other tips to reduce the chances of deer collisions include keeping in mind that deer travel in herds (if you see one there are probably others nearby), not relying on car mounted deer whistles, and select major routes that are well lit.

Griffith said that from an insurance perspective, some maneuvers are better than others. "If you have a choice between hitting the deer and hitting a guardrail or pole, hit the deer," said Griffith. "And as unusual as that may sound, it's because the coverages on your vehicle, collision coverage, and comprehensive coverage. You are a lot better off using your comprehensive coverage, which is hitting the deer."

He said deer collisions are most likely in November, during deer mating and migration season. About 18 percent of all deer-related accidents occur in the 30 days of November.

With Pennsylvania fourth in the country, where is the most likely place to hit a deer? West Virginia tops the ranking with one in 42 odds, with Iowa next at one in 77 odds, and South Dakota in third with a one in 81 chance.