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W.Va. again leads nation in likely auto-deer collisions

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia leads the nation for the sixth consecutive year as the state where an individual driver is most likely to run into a deer, according to an annual study by State Farm, the nation's largest auto insurer.

The chance of a West Virginia motorist striking a deer over the next 12 months is 1 in 40, compared with 1 in 48 the year before, according to State Farm.

The insurer uses its claims data and state licensed driver counts from the Federal Highway Administration to make its calculations.

South Dakota moved from third place last year to second place in this year's survey, with a likelihood of 1 in 68. Iowa dropped from second to third place with a 1-in-71.9 likelihood.

"In each of the top five states, the rate of deer-related collisions per driver went up from a year ago," State Farm said on Tuesday.

Here are the odds for licensed drivers in states surrounding West Virginia: Pennsylvania, 1 in 76; Virginia, 1 in 103; Maryland, 1 in 115; Ohio, 1 in 118; and Kentucky, 1 in 130.

Hawaii remains the state in which deer-vehicle collisions are least likely to occur. The odds in the Aloha State are 1 in 6,801. According to State Farm, that's about the same likelihood that any one person has of being struck by lightning during his or her lifetime.

Overall, the number of deer-related collisions in the United States has increased by 7.7 percent over the last year, the company said.

State Farm estimates 1.23 million collisions caused by the presence of deer occurred in the United States between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012.

"The probability that any single licensed driver in the U.S. was behind the wheel during one of those 1.23 million crashes also increased from 1 in 183 to 1 in 171, approximately equal to the odds that you will be audited by the Internal Revenue Service next tax season," State Farm said.

Over the last four years, the number of deer-related claims it has paid has increased 7.9 percent while other, similar auto claims have declined 8.5 percent, State Farm said.

Deer-vehicle collisions are most likely to occur in November, the company said. October is the second most likely month for such crashes. December is third.

"The average property damage cost of these incidents during the final half of 2011 and the first half of 2012 was $3,305, up 4.4 percent from the year before," State Farm said.

Chris Mullen, State Farm's director of technology research, said in a prepared statement, "State Farm has a long history of supporting auto safety. Calling attention to hazards like this one is part of our DNA."

The most recent survey is posted online. Go to www.statefarm.com, scroll to the bottom of the page and under, "About State Farm," click on, "Newsroom." Then click on the press release headlined, "It's West Virginia Again."

Contact writer George Hohmann at business@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.


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