The 10 states where you’re most likely to hit a deer, and how to avoid a collision

It’s autumn. A beautiful time of seasonal change—leaves falling, weather cooling, deer darting out in front of your car.

Deer are more active in October, November (peak) and December because this period is their mating season. It’s also hunting season. Not only that, but deer are out eating more often, building up their body fat for winter. This all adds up to seeing more deer activity on the road.

State Farm recently published its annual list of the states with the highest large animal vehicle collision rates. Average damage costs for these crashes with deer, moose, elk and caribou rose almost $200 in the last year. A few new states also made the top 10 list.

The top 10 states for large animals collisions in 2016-17 according to State Farm’s data are:

  1. West Virginia
  2. Montana
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. Iowa
  5. Wisconsin
  6. South Dakota
  7. Minnesota
  8. Wyoming
  9. Michigan
  10. North Dakota

But if you live in any area of the country where deer are fairly common, you’ll want to consider these tips for reducing your chance of damage from hitting one:

Don’t Swerve

The biggest tip that comes up over and over for when you spot a deer close to your car is to not swerve in an attempt to avoid the animal. You’re likely to create a bigger accident and put yourself in more harm’s way. Instead, brake—depending on the closeness of the cars behind you—or take your foot off the gas.

Be Extra Vigilant At Dusk And Dawn

Deer are crepuscular animals, meaning they are out and about more often at day’s end and beginning.

car deer photo
Getty Images | Rob Stothard

Use Your High Beams When You Can

They’ll help you see farther down the road so you can spot deer when driving in the dark.

Look For Groups

If you see one deer, there are likely more nearby. Don’t think that just because you’ve passed one, you’re in the clear.

Don’t Speed

An obvious but important one. You can brake more effectively and limit your car damage if you’re driving at a slower speed.

Look For Deer Crossing Signs

They aren’t there just for roadside color, but were installed due to observed activity.

car deer photo
Getty Images | Matt Cardy

Buckle Up

Even for short drives near home, you’ll want to be prepared for a sudden stop or collision, and that means putting on your seatbelt.

Don’t Assume A Product Will Protect You

Deer whistles/horns that are mounted to your car and that are supposed to emit warning sounds to scare deer away don’t necessarily work.

[h/t: Consumer Reports]