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Depending on where you live and the roads you most often traverse, encountering animals on the road can be a near-daily occurrence or a rarity. Of course, someone living in a large city is far less likely to encounter roadkill or be the cause of it versus someone residing in a rural area, but the state in which you live also plays a determining factor in avoiding car accidents. So, which states have the highest percentage of and risk of roadkill and animal collisions? Let’s talk car safety.

Animal and roadkill collisions pose a notable risk while driving

According to Pew Charitable Trusts, crashes between cars and large animals account for 1 million to 2 million yearly accidents. The research organization notes these crashes result in approximately 200 deaths, 26,000 injuries, and “at least $8 billion in property damage and other costs.” The organization states roads often block or impede “wildlife corridors,” and elk or mule deer are “cut off from seasonal migration routes” by roads, posing a threat to their viability and presenting a risk for drivers along such roads.

According to the organization, states with large rural populations pose the greatest threat to drivers for collisions with large animals like deer or elk.

According to insurance firm State Farm, these are the states in which drivers are most likely to experience an “animal collision” or roadkill collision.

5. Michigan

Michigan plays home to the Motor City, but its vast rural areas mean it is also one of the states in which drivers are most likely to hit roadkill. State Farm’s study, using data from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020, found Michigan drivers have a 1-in-54 chance of an animal collision.

4. South Dakota

With large swaths of rural areas increasing the chances of drivers hitting an animal, it’s understandable why South Dakota saw one of the highest percentages of animal collisions during State Farm’s study period. Drivers in the Mount Rushmore state have a 1-in-53 chance.

3. Pennsylvania

The figures are substantially higher in Pennsylvania, where drivers have a 1-in-51 chance of striking a large animal. Pennsylvania is just one of three northeastern states where drivers have a “high risk” of an animal collision. Maine and Rhode Island are the others.

2. Montana

Drivers in Montana are far more likely to strike an animal on the road than the national average. Montana has the second-highest risk of roadkill collisions across the country, with a 1-in-47 chance. The national average is 1-in-116, according to State Farm’s annual study.

1.  West Virginia

The John Denver song “Take Me Home, Country Roads” could include the caveat, “And be sure to be conscious of wildlife and roadkill on the road while doing so.” West Virginia drivers are the most likely to collide with an animal nationwide, a 1-in-37 chance, according to the study.

How to avoid a crash with a deer

State Farm says the displacement of animal habitats is making animal crashes more likely, and the company claims there aren’t ways to keep deer, elk, or moose off the road. However, the insurance firm suggests several tips to prevent animal collisions or lessen their overall impact on drivers and passengers.

The top tip, at least judging by the title of State Farm’s study, does not swerve. The company states you should maintain control of the car if “an animal-car crash is inevitable.” Other tips include staying alert and understanding that deer are more likely to be on the road from dusk to dawn while often traveling in herds.

If you encounter a deer, State Farm says you should brake hard if there are no cars behind you or reduce your speed; tap the brakes to warn other drivers behind you and honk your horn if there’s a car behind. Other tips, like wearing seat belts and using your high beams on dark roads, are obvious, but they bear repeating.


The Place in the U.S. With the Least Amount of Roadkill Isn’t a State