Iowa Ranks 2nd in the nation with deer/car accidents

Car - Deer Accidents on the rise

It’s an all too common problem this time of year, and at times dangerous and deadly. With the rut season and the fields being harvested, the amount of animals on the move has increased. Dusk and dawn prove to be especially dangerous, but deer and other animals can be a problem any other time of the day as well.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, deer-vehicle collisions in the U.S. cause about 200 fatalities each year. The average damage to a car or truck is $3,103. Iowa ranks as 2nd worst state for the problem of hitting deer. This year for the fourth year in a row, West Virginia is the worst for drivers. Every car on the road has a 1 in 42 chance of colliding with one of the 4 legged critters. The odds in Iowa are 1 in 67 that a car will strike a deer.

You can view State Farm’s map here for a full view of your odds of hitting a deer.

This is up from 2007 when Iowa ranked 5th in the same study, with odds being that of 1 in 109 that a collision would happen with a deer. Also in 2007, 10 crashes resulted in a fatality in Iowa, but in 1994 that number was only 1.

State Farm in a press release stated: While the number of miles driven by U.S. motorists over the past five years has increased just 2 percent, the number of deer-vehicle collisions in this country during that time has grown by ten times that amount.

Using its claims data, State Farm®, the auto insurer estimates 2.3 million collisions between deer and vehicles occurred in the U.S. during the two-year period between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2010. That’s 21.1 percent more than five years earlier. To put it another way, during your reading of this paragraph, a collision between a deer and vehicle will likely have taken place (they are much more likely during the last three months of the year and in the early evening).

They go to explain some tips on helping to avoid the pesky 4 legged critters:

These collisions are more frequent during the deer migration and mating season in October, November and December. The combination of growing deer populations and the displacement of deer habitat caused by urban sprawl are producing increasingly hazardous conditions for motorists and deer.

Here are tips on how to reduce the chances that a deer-vehicle collision involving your vehicle will be part of the story we tell in next year’s version of this news release:

  • Be aware of posted deer crossing signs. These are placed in active deer crossing areas.
  • Remember that deer are most active between 6 and 9 p.m.
  • Use high beam headlamps as much as possible at night to illuminate the areas from which deer will enter roadways.
  • Keep in mind that deer generally travel in herds – if you see one, there is a strong possibility others are nearby.
  • Do not rely on car-mounted deer whistles.
  • If a deer collision seems inevitable, attempting to swerve out of the way could cause you to lose control of your vehicle or place you in the path of an oncoming vehicle.

The rise of the deer population has it’s benefits and it’s costs. The state of Iowa makes a large amount of money from deer tag sales. The rest of the economy benefits from full motels and restaurants with hungry and tired hunters from all parts of the country.The economic impact of deer hunters and their time spent in Iowa is a boon of 137 million dollars annually to the state.

Many people are expressing anger at the rise in the deer population, and what they perceive as profiteering off deer tag sales to pay for more conservation on the backs of Iowa residents who are hitting deer at ever increasing numbers, resulting in more injuries and death. Think of your deductible and lost time from work or medical bills, and increased insurance costs. One local citizen stated he believes that “public safety is traded off for government revenue.”

But with a 1936 population estimate of between 500 to 700 deer for the entire state, to the first hunting season in 1953 when the population was estimated to be 10,000, to the present day estimate in 2008 of 300,000 one thing is for certain, conservation certainly seems to be working. And until a balance is found between both sides of the argument, this one is far from over.

The following video is from a patrol car in Indianola, Iowa.

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