Don’t get caught like a deer in headlights: In the US Mississippi ranks high in deer collisions

Published 2:31 pm Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Deer on the side of the road is a common sight along rural roads, so too are vehicle accidents caused by hitting one of the animals.

The chance of hitting a deer on a Mississippi roadway has increased in the last year. Each year, State Farm Insurance Company releases it annual study of deer collisions across the country.

This year the insurance company ranks the magnolia state in the top 10 states most likely to hit a deer.

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West Virginia, Montana, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin top of list. Rounding out the top 10 states where drivers are most likely to collide with large animals like deer are Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Wyoming and Mississippi.

Mississippians have a 1 in 95 chance of hitting a deer while driving, and during the colder months that chance increases.

“For one, they hit rut activity, colder weather has them moving. We’ve also seen a lot of flooding in the area as well it pushes them up out of soaked areas that were dry, they’re trying to find dry ground,” Robert Aiken with RW Aiken Insurance Agency told the television station WJTV in Jackson.

Aiken said he tells drivers it’s better to hit the deer then swerve to avoid it, which could cause a much more serious accident.

“Physical damage has two parts; you’ve got comprehensive and collision. So realistically if you swerve to hit a deer and hit another car or something else, that falls under collision and the insurance company could consider that a more ‘at fault’ accident where a comprehensive accident is not considered ‘at fault,” he said.

State Fram offers these tips for avoiding animals in the road:

  • Stay Alert. Pay attention to ‘deer crossing’ signs and be cautious in areas near woods or water.
  • Use High Beams. Flicking your high beams on a deer in the road may cause the animal to scurry away. High beams also help illuminate dark roads.
  • Don’t Swerve. If a deer-car crash is inevitable, maintain control of your vehicle and don’t veer off the road.
  • Brake as Necessary. If you can avoid hitting the animal, reduce your speed, honk your horn, and tap your brakes to warn other drivers. If there are no drivers behind you, brake hard.
  • Remember Peak Season. Deer crashes happen most during October through December, which is hunting and mating season. Collisions are most likely to happen in West Virginia, Iowa, Montana, and Pennsylvania.
  • Remember Meal Time. Watch for animals in the road between dusk and dawn.
  • Watch for Herds. If you see one deer, there are probably more nearby.
  • Don’t Use a Whistle. No scientific evidence supports that car-mounted deer whistles work.
  • Wear Seat Belts. Always obey speed limits and wear seat belts.