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Editorial: Deer and autumn make a deadly mix on state's highways

Oct. 27, 2012 @ 12:05 AM

It wouldn't be surprising if a motorist driving in West Virginia in November feels like a deer caught in headlights. Odds are pretty high that motorist is likely to see a deer in his headlights, and hit it.

For the sixth straight year, the Mountain State tops State Farm Insurance's list of states where an individual driver is most likely to collide with a deer, with the odds that one in every 40 drivers will do so over the next 12 months. That is based on State Farm claims data and the number of licensed drivers.

Compare that with the second place state, South Dakota, where the odds are 1 in 68, or the national average of 1 in 171.

Ohio drivers also face what State Farm calls a high risk of striking a deer, but the odds there are much better at only 1 in 118. Kentucky falls within the list of medium-risk states, with the probability of 1 in 130.

Motorists in all those states need to sharpen their senses while driving in the coming month. State Farm reports that about 18 percent of annual deer-vehicle collisions occur in November when deer are active.

No doubt, West Virginia's wooded, mountainous terrain contributes to its leadership on the list, but another factor is obviously the deer population.

To get a better handle on just how big that population is, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources recently conducted surveys to evaluate the size and density of the deer population in 41 counties. The results will figure into the department's deer management plan over the next few years. We hope that the result will reduce the deer population, which not only poses a risk on roads and highways but also does extensive damage to crops.

But that won't take hold for a few years. Meanwhile, motorists had better apply some extra caution, especially during this time of year.

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