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PHOTO: Good morning, deer (copy)

A startled young doe takes off running.

Once again, West Virginia drivers rank first in the nation for animal collisions.

According to a new State Farm study, West Virginia drivers have a 1 in 37 chance of colliding with an animal while driving, compared to a 1 in 88 chance in Kentucky and a 1 in 102 chance in Ohio.

The study attributes West Virginia’s increased odds to crashes involving deer.

“Deer crashes happen most during October through December, which is hunting and mating season,” the study said. “Collisions are most likely to happen in West Virginia, followed by Montana, Pennsylvania and South Dakota.”

The new data show U.S. drivers on the average have a 1 in 116 chance of a collision with an animal. State Farm estimates there were over 1.9 million animal collision insurance claims in the U.S. between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019.

In 2019, State Farm had 7,721 auto claims for animal collisions in West Virginia. While most collisions are with deer (67%), many other animals followed closely behind such as dogs, cats, farm animals and large rodents.

In one year, a study in rural southwest Virginia recorded 1,837 cases of road kill, including 1,415 mammals, 188 birds, 105 reptiles, 122 domestic animals and seven frogs. Overall, 64 different species were counted.

On the opposite side of the country, a similar study of animal collisions in Colorado counted 1,242 animals killed on roads near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Mule deer were the most frequent victims. However, the study showed porcupines, owls, badgers and even a weasel were killed on highways in the area.

State Farm said officials use these types of studies to see if traffic diversions such as culverts or bridges over the most common areas where the animals were killed attempting to cross roads can help avoid collisions with vehicles.

“Claims after collisions with an animal range from small dents to totaled vehicles and injured drivers and passengers,” said Michael Braaten, director of enterprise research with State Farm. “By sharing ways to help drivers be aware of the increased dangers this time of year — including inclement weather, shorter periods of daylight and students driving home after evening activities — State Farm hopes to help decrease the number of collisions and injuries.”