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 |  Oct 07 2011, 11:00 AM

Fall is a lovely time of year and a great time to travel the scenic roads to take advantage of the views the changing seasons have to offer. But keep your eye out for deer – they’re out on the roads and can cause serious car accidents.

According to new study by insurance company State Farm, deer collisions have dropped for the past three years. Over this past year, the decline has been about three times more than the previous two years combined. In the U.S. from July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011, about 1.09 million accidents were the result of deer and vehicles collisions, which is down seven percent over last year. Even though accidents are down, the cost of property damage for these accidents is up to $3,171 – that’s an increase of over two percent from 2010.

As for states that report the most deer and vehicle collisions, West Virginia tops the list for the fifth year in a row – in the next 12 months, the odds of this type of accident happening are 1 in 53. Iowa comes in second at 1 in 77, followed by South Dakota (1 in 81), Pennsylvania (1 in 86), Michigan (1 in 90). Rounding out the top 10 are Montana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wyoming. The state with the least amount of deer and vehicle accidents is Hawaii, with odds of just 1 in 6,267.

Even though the numbers have dropped, it’s important to keep in mind that October, November, and December are prime deer mating and migration season, so expect to see them wandering around more frequently in the fall.

If you’re going out for a scenic drive, keep these precautions in mind:

  • Deer are particularly active around dawn and between the hours of 6 to 9 p.m.
  • Look out for deer-crossing signs and wooded areas where deer or other animals travel.
  • Slow down if you see an animal on the side of the road, and use your high-beams at night (if possible).
  • Brake, don’t swerve. Swerving to avoid an animal may cause you to hit another vehicle or lose control of your own car. Just slow down as quickly and safely as you can.
  • Remember that deer travel in groups, so if you see one run across the road, others are probably right behind it.
  • Always buckle up.

[Source: Consumer Reports]