Insurer: Deer-car collisions down in Oregon

State still tops West Coast, but just 35th in country

PORTLAND, Ore. - The odds that a driver will crash into a deer on the West Coast next year are highest in Oregon. The chance that an Oregonian will collide with a deer is now 1 in 271. This ranks the state 35th on the list of states where a deer collision is most likely to occur, but well ahead of its neighbors WA (1 in 322) and CA (1 in 1,007) who finished 41st and 48th respectively, according to a study out Wednesday.

Using its claims data and state licensed driver counts from the Federal Highway Administration, State Farm, the nation's leading auto insurer, calculates the chances of any single American motorist striking a deer over the next 12 months at 1 in 174, compared with 1 in 167 the year before.* 

The chances of an Oregon driver striking a deer is lower than the national average, but October and November are the months where a deer collision is most likely to occur. 

The decline in collisions is particularly notable in North Dakota (24.8 percent) and Nebraska (22.0 percent). South Dakota (12.6% decline), Michigan (11.4%) and Kansas (11.3 percent decline) rounds out the top five for most significant decline. Oregon dropped 5% in deer collisions overall, slightly better than the national trend. 

For the seventh year in a row, deer-vehicle confrontations are most probable in West Virginia at 1 in 41. Nearby, Montana is second at 1 in 65. Iowa (1 in 73) third, South Dakota (1 in 75) fourth and  Pennsylvania (1 in 77) top the national list. However, in each of the top five states, the probability of a deer-related collision for any given vehicle is less than it was a year ago.

The state in which deer-vehicle mishaps are least likely is still Hawaii (1 in 6,787).  The odds of a driver in Hawaii colliding with a deer between now and 12 months from now are approximately equal to the odds of a middle-of-the-pack National Football League team running off 13 wins in a row.  


State Farm estimates 1.22 million collisions caused by the presence of deer between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013, a 3.5 percent decrease from a year ago. 

And while the number of deer-related collisions in the U.S. over the last five years has increased by 2.0 percent, when you account for the increase in the number of drivers on the nation's roadways over that period, the likelihood of any one of those drivers being the victim of a deer-vehicle confrontation has dropped 2.5 percent.   


State Farm's data shows that November, the heart of the deer hunting and mating seasons, is the month during which deer-vehicle encounters are most likely. Approximately 18 percent of all such mishaps take place during the 30 days of November. 

Deer-vehicle collisions are three times more likely to occur on a day in November than they are on any day between February 1st and August 31st.  October is the second most likely month for a crash involving a deer and a vehicle.  December is third.

The average property damage cost of these incidents during the final half of 2012 and the first half of 2013 was $3,414, up 3.3 percent from the year before. 


"This study is a good reminder that safety should be top of mine behind the wheel. Deer are not the only animals that cross our busy roadways," said Brad Hilliard, State Farm spokesman in Portland. "We encourage everyone to remember 2N2, two hands on the wheel, two eyes on the road."   

Here are tips from the Insurance Information Institute on how to reduce the odds of a deer-vehicle confrontation: 

  • Keep in mind that deer generally travel in herds – if you see one, there is a strong possibility others are nearby.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Don't rely on car-mounted deer whistles. 

* A refinement in the process State Farm uses to adjust its number of deer-vehicle collisions to account for those involving drivers not insured by State Farm caused the number of deer-vehicle collisions reported a year ago to be overstated by 1.2 percent countrywide (more in some states, less in others).  Thus, comparisons between data we provided a year ago and data in this news release should not be made.  Links to the corrected numbers for last year (July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012) are provided.

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