Fall is the time when the deer and antelope are on the move, and that means the chances of a driver hitting a deer also are greater. In fact, odds that a driver in Minnesota will hit a deer are up 9 percent this year compared to last year, according to an analysis of claims data between July 2014 and June 2015 by insurer State Farm.

Drivers in Minnesota have a one in 81 chance of hitting a deer, well above the national average of 1 in 169. Overall, motorists in Minnesota ranked seventh in the nation for the number of vehicle-deer collisions in 2014, the insurer said. The state came in eighth in 2013 with odds 1 collision for every 80 drivers.

But those odds are for the year. The odds double during October and November, the two months that drivers are most likely come in contact with a deer, elk or moose and consequently file a claim, State Farm said.

For the ninth year running, West Virginia was the most likely place for a car-deer incident, with a car-deer crash reported for 1 in every 44 drivers. Montana, with 1 for every 63, came in second followed by Iowa (1 in 68), Pennsylvania (1 in 70) and South Dakota (1 in 73). Drivers in Hawaii had the least to worry about with chances of hitting a deer just 1 in 8,765.

“Though Minnesota may not have as many deer collisions as West Virginia, these types of collisions still occur and we encourage all drivers to be cautious,” said State Farm Public Affairs Specialist Ann Avery. “It’s important that drivers are practicing safe driving habits and watching out for animals on the road. Wearing your seat belt and practicing defensive driving tactics could make a significant difference.”

An encounter with a deer can be expensive. The average cost per claim was $4,135, up from $3,888 in the 2013-2014 claim analysis.

Beyond damage, 191 deaths reported in 2013 were the result of collisions with animals, with deer being the animal most often struck, according to the Insurance Information Institute and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Over the past three years there have been 19 deaths in Minnesota, according to the Department of Public Safety.

Deer often move in groups are are unpredictable.  Due to hunting and migration, movement is greater during the fall, with the risk to motorists highest in dusk to dawn hours.

State Farm offers these tips to help drivers avoid a collision:

  • Use extra caution in known deer zones
  • Always wear your seatbelt
  • At night, when there is no oncoming traffic, use high beams
  • Avoid swerving when you see a deer
  • Scan the road for deer and other danger signs
  • Do not rely on devices such as deer whistles

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