The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 11, 2013

Deer me!

The Register-Herald

— West Virginia has many types of roads. There is the standard two-lane, curvy byway that hugs the side of the mountain. Single-lane country roads cut through the valleys, hills and hollers. It also has a nice share of four-lane corridors and Interstates.

But no matter what the type of road, they all have one thing in common — the likelihood of a vehicle striking a deer.

State Farm Insurance puts out an annual report detailing how likely it is that a driver in any of the 50 states will have a close and costly encounter with a deer.

In the latest report issued earlier this week, West Virginia topped the list for the seventh straight year. Drivers in the Mountain State have a 1 in 41 chance of colliding with a deer. That is a 8.3 percent drop from last year.

Montana came in second at 1 in 65, Iowa was third at 1 in 73, South Dakota is fourth at 1 in 75 and our neighbor to the north, Pennsylvania, comes in at 1 in 77.

Nationwide, the chance is 1 in 174. Head to Hawaii if you want to avoid such a collision; the odds there are 1 in 6,787.

We figure by now that most West Virginia drivers are aware of the odds of crashing into a deer, but yet it keeps happening.

There are ways to have a safer journey through deer territory.

The odds for hitting a deer are highest in November, so it would be wise to be on high alert during that month.

The Insurance Information Institute offers some suggestions for protecting yourself against such collisions:

- Deer typically do not travel alone. They tend to wander in herds, so be aware that if you see one, others are likely to follow.

- Deer-crossing signs denote high-traffic areas, so pay attention to them when driving.

- Be especially cautious from 6 to 9 p.m., when deer are most active.

- Use high-beam headlamps as much as possible at night, especially in deer-active areas.

- Though it seems counter-intuitive, don’t swerve if you think you’re going to hit a deer. You may lose control of your car or crash into another vehicle.

The average cost to repair vehicle damage after striking a deer is $3,414, so it might just pay you to be extra cautious as you drive about the state.

There aren’t any stats on the odds of hitting a small herd of cattle while tooling down the Interstate. But we do know that it causes a great deal of carnage, as evidenced by Wednesday’s incident in Greenbrier County when 19 head of cattle and two tractor-trailers were demolished in such an incident.

All the more reason, we say, to exercise extra caution when driving anywhere.

You never know what might be out there.