Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.
It is always upsetting and scary to get in a car accident, but it’s even worse when it involves an animal. The most common animal that gets hit by a vehicle in the United States is the deer. There are over one million deer-involved car accidents annually. Despite deer being fast on their feet and leaping impressive lengths, their “deer in headlights” complex causes them to be the victims of many car collisions.
This article goes over information and statistics about car accidents involving deer that you should know no matter where you live. We look at 15 deer car accident statistics, including:
- Overall Deer-Car Collision Statistics
- Statistics About When Deer Collisions Occur
- Interesting Statistics about Deer Collisions Based on States
- Statistics About Deer in the United States
The 15 Deer Car Accident Statistics for 2023
- Every year, over one million deer get hit by cars.
- About 1.5 million motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. are caused by deer each year.
- Deer cause over $1 billion in property damage.
- Collisions with deer cause 200 fatalities each year.
- There is a 1 in 116 chance of hitting a deer with a car in the United States.
- 67% of animal collisions are caused by deer.
- The most common time deer collisions happen is between 6pm–9pm.
- When there is a full moon, you are more likely to hit a deer.
- November sees the highest rate of deer collisions.
- Virginia has the most extended deer hunting season of all the states.
- West Virginia has the highest car insurance claims for collisions with an animal.
- Texas has the highest number of white-tailed deer in the nation, with over 4 million.
- 24.1% of South Dakota residents are registered hunters.
- There is an estimation of 33.5 million deer in the United States.
- There are six species of true deer in North America, and the most common species is the white-tailed deer.
Overall Deer-Car Collision Statistics
1. Every year, over a million deer get hit by cars.
Sadly, many deer die from the impact of getting hit by a car. While some people swerve to avoid them, most deer end up getting hit and dying. In most cases, deer instantly die when they get hit, but most die a bit later from internal or external injuries.
2. About 1.5 million motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. are caused by deer each year.
Deer can be found in many places across the United States, including suburban neighborhoods. Since roads intersect in places where deer roam for food or mating opportunities, they always risk getting hit by a car.
3. Deer cause over $1 billion in property damage.
(Ecology and Society)
The damage that deer can cause to a driver’s car and surrounding cars is extensive. A mature buck can weigh between 300 and 400 pounds! In addition, if a driver swerves to avoid the deer, they could hit surrounding property, adding to the overall damage deer can cause.
4. Collisions with deer cause 200 fatalities each year.
If a driver hits a deer, the animal could go through the windshield and injure the driver and/or block the driver’s view. This can lead to a fatal crash. Sometimes, drivers try to veer to avoid deer. This can lead them to collide with trees or other cars. Even though drivers swerve to avoid causing harm to the deer, they end up risking their lives.
5. There is a 1 in 116 chance of hitting a deer with a car in the United States.
(Insurance Information Institute)
While the chance of hitting a deer with your car varies state by state, the overall average is 1 in 116. In states that have more rural areas and forests, the chances are higher.
6. 67% of animal collisions are caused by deer.
(Insurance Information Institute)
Many animals get hit by cars, but deer make up the majority. Even though deer are quite large compared to rabbits, squirrels, and other smaller mammals, deer still are the most common victims of vehicle collisions.
Statistics About When Deer Collisions Occur
7. The most common time deer collision happens between 6pm–9pm.
(West Bend Mutual Insurance Company)
No, deer do not all set their watches to run out on the roads at this time. Most deer, particularly white-tailed deer, are crepuscular. That means they are most active during dawn and dusk. Dusk is also when people are the most active on roads coming home from work, going to night shift positions, having dates, etc. The combination of those two factors makes the evening time the most common time for deer-car collisions.
8. When there is a full moon, you are more likely to hit a deer.
When there is a full moon, most deer tend to roam around more because they can see more in the moonlight. However, this means that drivers need to be more vigilant when on the road during a full moon.
9. November sees the highest rate of deer collisions.
Late fall is mating season for deer, so bucks will be chasing down does. Deer will be crossing roads at a much higher rate when compared to other seasons. During this time, drivers will notice a lot more deer near or crossing the roads.
Interesting Statistics About Deer Collisions Based on States
10. Virginia has the most extended deer hunting season of all the states.
(Southeastern Outdoor Press Association)
If you are a licensed hunter in the USA, you must abide by the varying hunting laws based on the state. In Virginia, hunters have more flexibility when it comes to deer hunting. There is no limit on the number of deer you can hunt during their season. Because there is a great deal of building expansion in Virginia, the state would like to reduce the deer population through hunting.
11. West Virginia has the highest car insurance claims for collisions with an animal.
(Insurance Information Institute)
1 out of 37 car accidents in West Virginia involves a collision with an animal. This state has the highest rate of animal collision among all the states due to its vast rural acreage, an ideal place for deer to live.
12. Texas has the highest number of white-tailed deer in the nation, with over 4 million.
Since Texas is one of the largest states, it comes as no surprise that the highest number of white-tailed deer are found there. Mississippi and Alabama have the following highest numbers of deer, with both states recording approximately 1.8 million deer.
13. 24.1% of South Dakota residents are registered hunters.
Almost one-quarter of the residents in South Dakota are registered hunters. Although the state has seen a decline in new and renewed hunting licenses in 2019, they still hold the number one position of registered hunters based on population. Deer are among their biggest targets.
Statistics About Deer in the United States
14. There is an estimation of 33.5 million deer in the United States.
Millions of deer are spread out across the United States, with the white-tailed deer being the most common. Forests and grazing land get leveled to make room for residential buildings and office spaces. Deer are compressed to smaller areas, making it easier for them to breed.
15. There are six species of true deer in North America, and the most common species is the white-tailed deer.
Usually, when people are talking about deer in the United States, they mean white-tailed deer. However, there are five other species: mule deer, caribou, moose, brocket deer, and elk. These deer can be involved in car accidents; however, because of the large population of white-tailed deer, these are the deer that most commonly get hit by vehicles.
FAQ: About Deer Car Accidents
1. Why do deer get hit by cars so often?
Human expansion has infiltrated deer habitats. More roads intersect their habitats, and because deer roam to find food, they must cross main roads and thus risk getting hit by cars. Deer also get confused with the noise caused by oncoming traffic, making them dodge back and forth. In addition, deer are more active at dawn and dusk when there is less light, making them harder to see until it is too late. (World Deer)
2. What is the best way to avoid hitting a deer?
There are several things that you can do to avoid hitting a deer. Knowing when deer are most likely to roam – dawn and dusk – will help you be more aware when you drive. Use your headlights while driving. Look out for signs in the shape of yellow triangles; those are indications that deer are in the area. Deer travel in herds, so if you see only one crossing the road, there might be several more wanting to cross. Lastly, brake when you see a deer – do not swerve. While swerving might seem like the best way to avoid the deer, you will most likely get seriously injured by doing that. (Geico)
3. What should you do if you do hit a deer?
Even if you try to avoid hitting a deer, accidents do happen. If you do hit a deer, try to move your car to a safer place and turn on your hazard lights. You do not want to have your car in a place where another car can hit it. Then, call the police (unless it’s an emergency) and inform them what happened. You can let them know if you are hurt and if other services are required. The police can also contact animal control services. Next, do not get too close to the deer if it is still alive. The deer will be in shock and might try to bolt or kick. Deer in this state can be very strong and dangerous to you. (Drivers Ed)
4. If the deer is still alive after it gets hit, what will happen to it?
Most deer will be euthanized after they get hit because there will be too much damage. This is the sad reality of the situation. The struck deer suffer from broken legs, a damaged spine, or internal injuries that will cause the deer’s death. Those deer will not survive in the wild, and it is more humane for animal control to put them down painlessly. However, some lucky deer are not seriously hurt in the accident, and they might be able to survive on their own. (Hearts Afire)
Something to consider is if you hit a nursing female, the fawn might still be in the area. The fawn will not survive on its own. However, many states have deer rehabilitation centers that will take orphaned fawns and raise them until they can survive on their own in the wild.
5. Will my insurance rates go up if I hit a deer?
It all depends on your car insurance company. Many car insurance companies will not increase your rates if you hit a deer because these accidents are unpredictable. Even if you follow all the steps of being a safe driver, a deer might seemingly come out of nowhere. Contact your car insurance to confirm their policies about deer-car accidents. (Coverage)
Do Deer Make Good Pets?
Some people tend to the deer they hit with their car if the deer was not seriously injured. After a few weeks of care, people might be tempted to keep the deer as a pet. Do deer make good pets? If they were wild deer, the general answer is no. (Real Tree)
Here are the reasons why:
Despite people being cautious and alert drivers, people still hit deer by accident. The most important thing is to protect yourself. Swerving to avoid the deer may result in serious injury. Plus, you might still hit the deer despite trying to swerve. Ensure your own safety first. Even if you do not get hurt, but the deer is seriously hurt or dies, it can still be upsetting. Despite it being upsetting, calling the police as soon as you safely can is an essential step. Driving away from the situation will not be beneficial because the deer could be saved if it is only slightly injured. If the deer dies or cannot move out of the road, this could cause another driver to have an accident. Move your car, call the police, and remember that accidents happen.
- Next on your reading list: 11 Canada Deer Car Accidents Statistics: How Many Deer Are Hit By Cars?
Image Credit: Piqsels