Deer Collisions By State

Deer Collisions by State [Full List]

Deer collisions are an all too common occurrence in many places around the country. Not only do they injure and kill the animals, they can be extremely dangerous to the drivers involved. In fact, people sometimes lose their lives as the result of colliding with deer. Today, we’ll reveal the number of deer collisions by state. 

An important part of avoiding deer collisions is being aware that there are cervid populations in the area where you are driving. The size of deer populations and numbers of deer collisions varies from place to place and state to state in the United States. 

Keep reading to learn about deer collisions, factors that increase the risk of deer collisions, and the states with the highest number of deer collisions. We will also talk about how to prevent deer collisions. 

What is a Deer Collision? 

Officially, a deer collision occurs when there is a collision between a vehicle and a deer on a roadway. In most cases, they happen because the animal suddenly runs out in front of a moving car, van, or truck. 

West Virginia Deer Collision

As adult deer are large animals, colliding with one is a significant hazard. Generally speaking, the faster you’re driving, the more dangerous a deer collision will be. 

That is why it is important to drive more slowly than you might otherwise when you’re driving on a roadway near known deer populations. There will often be road signs with a picture of deer to notify you that cervids may suddenly run into the road. 

If you’re driving too fast, not only will a collision be more dangerous, but avoiding one may also be a hazard in itself. In fact, suddenly swerving to avoid a deer could result in a serious crash between you and other vehicles. 

When you collide with a deer, it can cause enormous damage to your vehicle and could lead to you and your passengers being seriously, perhaps even critically or fatally, injured. In some cases, the deer can smash through your windshield. This is more likely to happen when you’re driving at higher speeds. 

Did you hit a deer? Find out what to do if you hit a deer.

There are approximately 2.1 million collisions between vehicles and deer in the United States every year. 

Factors that Increase Deer Collisions 

Let’s take a look at the factors that make deer collisions more likely to happen. 

Deer Population 

Of course, the most significant factor that impacts whether there will be a deer collision is how many deer are in the area and may be crossing the road.

Season  

That means that at times of the year when deer are more likely to be active and moving around also are more likely to end up in deer collisions. 

What is a Deer Collision

An example is the rut (deer mating season), when male deer (bucks) tend to wander around extensively and are especially unpredictable. This begins in November. 

State Farm explains that October through December (with November being the worst) are the months of the year when drivers in the United States have the greatest risk of colliding with a large animal, such as a deer. 

Deer also often migrate in the early summer and middle of the fall. They are likely to cross many roads during that time, and so they’re at higher risk of being hit by a vehicle.                                

Time of Day 

The time of day when you’re driving also plays a major part in how much risk there is of a deer collision. The times of day when most deer collisions happen are in the evening (between 6 pm and midnight) and morning (between 6 am and 9 am). 

This changes a bit in October and November. During that time of year, most deer collisions happen earlier in the evening (between 5 pm and 8 pm) and for a narrower window in the morning (between 6 am and 7 am). 

States with Most Deer Collisions 

While it is possible to have a deer collision in any region that has deer, certain states in the United States have a much greater than average likelihood that you could end up hitting a deer with your vehicle. 

Deer Collisions by State 

Here is a table with the top 10 states when it comes to the odds of hitting a deer. The numbers here show the odds that any given vehicle accident involves a deer collision. These stats are related to the Deer Population by State.

State Odds of a Deer Collision 
1. West Virginia 1 in 38
2. Montana 1 in 48 (or 1 in 53
3. Pennsylvania 1 in 52 (or 1 in 59
4. South Dakota 1 in 54
5. Iowa 1 in 55
6. Wyoming 1 in 56
7. Wisconsin 1 in 57 (or 1 in 60) 
8. Michigan 1 in 60
9. Mississippi 1 in 61
10. Minnesota 1 in 64

1. West Virginia 

West Virginia has the dubious distinction of having the highest risk of a deer collision. In fact, it is estimated that 1 in 38 of all vehicle accidents in the state involve a deer. 

South Dakota Deer Collision

During a count in 2017, the deer population was estimated at around 550,000. While experts believe it may have slightly declined since then, West Virginia still has a markedly high cervid population. 

Of course, this plays a role in the fact this state has the highest risk of deer collisions. But another factor are certain physical features of and around West Virginia’s roadways. 

The mountainous region of southern West Virginia is especially prone to deer appearing on the roads. 

2. Montana 

Montana has a large deer population. The state is estimated to have about 213,000 whitetail deer, and the mule deer population is even higher at 300,000. So, Montana has a total cervid population of about 507,000. 

Montana has the second-highest rate of deer collisions, with 1 in 48 (or 1 in 53 or 1 in 57, according to various sources) car accidents involving a collision with a deer. 

Like in most other places, the time of year when hitting a deer is most likely in Montana is in the fall. As both the mating season and hunting happens during this time, deer are on the move.

The Great Falls Tribune reports that State Farm estimated that there were about 14,000 deer-related vehicle accident claims in Montana in 2017 and 2018. 

3. Pennsylvania 

1 in 52 (or 1 in 59, according to other sources) vehicle accidents in Pennsylvania involve a deer collision. 

There are around 1.5 whitetail deer in Pennsylvania. This is a much smaller number than some of the other states on this list, but remember that Pennsylvania is a relatively small state. So, there are a relatively large number of deer per square mile. 

A 2001 report indicated that there were as many as 30 deer per square mile in Pennsylvania. Today, the problem with cervid overpopulation continues in the state. That is the primary reason deer collisions are so common.       

In 2022, deer directly or indirectly caused 5,848 accidents in the state of Pennsylvania. There were nine deaths and 1,264 injuries as a result of these incidents. 

Like in many other states, October through December are the highest risk times of year for deer collisions in Pennsylvania. November is the highest risk month, while October comes next, and then December. 

Pittsburgh NPR News Station WESA reports that Pennsylvania lawmakers are advocating for the establishment of wildlife corridors. Of course, the hope is that deer would use these and this would cut down on the number of cervids crossing roadways. 

4. South Dakota

In South Dakota, 1 in 54 vehicle accidents involve a collision with a cervid. There are both whitetail (population of 377,000) and mule deer (87,000) in this state. 

Deer Collision by Season

DRGNews.com reported that there were 4847 car crashes involving an animal strike in South Dakota in 2020. Four people were killed and 71 of the crashes caused injuries. 

The same news outlet reports AAA Insurance statistics that shows the average deer collision insurance claim in South Dakota in 2020 was $5,510. This was an increase of about $700 from the 2019 average. 

In 2022, authorities estimated that South Dakota’s deer population was approximately 464,000. Most of these (377,000) were whitetail deer, while the rest (87,000) were mule deer. This large cervid population is one of the reasons South Dakota is prone to deer collisions. 

5. Iowa 

In Iowa, deer collisions cause 1 out of every 55 car accidents each year. 

In 2020, the estimated deer population in Iowa was 445,000. Some experts feel that the cervid population in Iowa is too high. 

In fact, deer are so overabundant in Iowa City, a city in the state, that some people refer to them as “rats with hooves.” 

Given how many deer there are even in some of the city spaces in Iowa, it’s little wonder that deer collisions are so common in this state. 

6. Wyoming

1 in 56 vehicle collisions in Wyoming involve deer collisions. The Nature Conservancy reports that vehicles crash into and kill “an average of 21 big-game animals” every day in this state. 

There are both whitetail deer and mule deer in Wyoming, and many mule deer are being killed. In fact, the Nature Conservancy explains that vehicle and deer collisions are making the state lose approximately 1.5% of its mule deer population every year. 

The mule deer population in Wyoming in 2021 was around 330,000. This was a decline from the 2016 number of 396,000. There are approximately 70,000 whitetail deer in this state. 

7. Wisconsin 

In Wisconsin, 1 in 57 (or 1 in 60, according to other sources) vehicle accidents each year are caused by collisions with cervids. 

The State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation reports that vehicles have killed more than 19,000 deer per year in the state per year. 

There are 1.6 million whitetail deer in Wisconsin. 

8. Michigan

It is estimated that 1 in every 60 vehicle accidents that happen in Michigan are deer collisions. 

Michigan Deer Collision

In 2021, there were more than 52,000 vehicle crashes involving deer in Michigan. 10 of these crashes resulted in a fatality. 

Michigan has an enormous whitetail deer population. There are estimated to be 2 million of these animals in the state.   

9. Mississippi

Experts say that around 1 in 61 accidents that happen in Mississippi involve colliding with a deer. This isn’t surprising when you consider that there are an estimated 1.75 whitetail deer in the state. 

The Mississippi Department of Transportation reports that there are around 3,800 deer crashes in Mississippi each year. 

10. Minnesota

In the state of Minnesota, 1 in 64 vehicle crashes involve a deer. The state has a large deer population, which was about 950,000 in 2020. 

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, there are an average of at least 2,000 deer collisions reported each year in Minnesota. However, State Farm Insurance has data suggesting that there are many more than that. In fact, the company explains that most of the 40,000 animal-related collisions that happen in Minnesota involve deer. 

Which States Have the Lowest Risk of Deer Collisions? 

There are certain states in the United States that have such tiny deer populations that they have exceptionally low risk of deer collisions. 

The states with the lowest deer collision risk are: 

Hawaii: 1 in 649

Nevada: 1 in 551

California: 1 in 427

Arizona: 1 in 416

The area of the United States with the lowest deer collision risk overall is Washington, D.C. The risk there is just 1 in 816. 

How to Reduce Your Risk of Deer Collisions 

Don’t worry if you have to drive somewhere with a high risk of deer collisions. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to cut down on the risk that your vehicle will end up hitting a deer. 

Below we will list the practices you can use to reduce your risk of deer collisions. 

Reduce Your Speed

Make sure you stay aware of any changes in the speed limit and stay well within it. If deer are known to cross a road, there should be signs indicating that. 

Deer Sign

It’s important to drive slowly and carefully when you are concerned there could be deer in the area. These animals are notorious for suddenly running out into the road without any warning. You need to drive slowly enough so that you can easily and safely brake. 

Make Sure You Don’t End Up Swerving 

One of the reasons it’s so important to drive slowly is because you need time to safely brake if a deer appears in front of you. 

It’s crucial that you don’t swerve, as swerving may cause a potentially serious accident between you and other cars. 

Remember Deer Often Travel in Groups 

It’s useful to remember that if you see one deer, there are very likely others nearby as most prefer to travel in groups called herds. This means that if you see a cervid cross the road, there will probably be other deer coming soon. 

Wear Your Seat Belt

It goes without saying that you must always wear your seatbelt, no matter where you’re driving. As important as this is in every other context, it’s even more vital when there is the risk of a collision, such as a deer collision. 

Like with other collisions, wearing a seatbelt drastically decreases the chance of being killed in an accident. Consumer Reports explains that failing to wear a seatbelt was behind most of the fatalities in animal-vehicle collisions examined in an IIHS study

Final Thoughts: Deer Collisions by State 

In this article, we have revealed the 10 states where deer collisions are most common, as well as provided information on the deer populations and number of collisions that happen each year. 

This is useful information for anyone who drives in the United States. A deer collision is a dangerous incident, and it is important to know which areas of the country where you may need to be more on your guard.

However, remember that there are also large deer populations in other states, and deer crashes also occur in those states. Always find out about the specific areas and roads where you travel, and watch out for signs indicating that deer cross there. 

This article filed under: