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Insurer: 1 in 88 Minnesota drivers will hit a deer this year

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Pay attention to those beady eyes along the roadside, or it could cost you deerly.

This year's estimate from State Farm puts the chances of a Minnesota driver colliding with a deer at 1 in 88. That puts us eighth among the states in the most-likely-to-hit-a-deer derby.

As the Duluth News Tribune reports, that's down from last year's sixth place finish, mostly because the harsh winter diminished the number of deer in the state. The News Tribune says Department of Natural Resources numbers show Minnesota's deer herd has been shrinking for a decade and the number of bucks harvested during hunting season has fallen 27 percent from its 2003 peak.

The bulk of vehicle collisions with deer occur in October and November, which is breeding season for whitetails.

Among our neighbors, Iowa ranked fourth among the states in likelihood of a deer collision. South Dakota was fifth, Wisconsin seventh, and North Dakota 15th.

State Farm, the nation's largest auto insurer, made its calculations based on its own data and driver numbers provided by the Federal Highway Administration.

West Virginia – at 1 in 39 – continues to be the most likely site of a deer crash. But because of that state's relatively sparse population, there will likely be more collisions in Pennsylvania.

Hawaiians might say mahalo that their chances of crashing into a deer are no greater than those of being struck by lightning, State Farm says.

Nationwide, deer-vehicle collisions occur to 1 in 169 drivers, which means Minnesotans are more than twice as likely as other Americans to be involved in one.

State Farm puts the cost of an average claim for such a crash this year at $3,888, which is up nearly 14 percent from last year.

What will help your chances of not being the 1 in 88 Minnesota drivers who collide with a deer?

The Insurance Information Institute offers these reminders:

  • Deer are found not just in the woods, but may pop up on roads in urban areas, too
  • Deer are unpredictable and when spooked may run into traffic rather than away from it
  • Deer move in groups. If you see one, there are likely others nearby.

Also, be extra careful in areas marked with deer crossing signs, always wear a seat belt, and use high beam headlights when there's no oncoming traffic, the Institute advises.

If you're not lucky enough to avoid a collision, you may wind up on this page of photos and stories from car-deer crashes.

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