PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - You're driving around on a dimly lit back road when all of a sudden a deer runs out in front of car. You slam on your brakes, but it's too late. You've hit the deer, and it took off into the woods.
Accidents like this aren't uncommon, especially in our area. And they may be becoming more frequent.
According to State Farm Insurance Agency, U.S. drivers are 3 percent more likely to hit a deer in the next 12 months than they were last year. That's based on new claims data.
The likelihood of an accident increases during certain times of year, too, as well as different times of day.
October, November and December are especially dangerous because deer are out looking for a mate, and hunters are invading their territory.
They're also more active during dusk and dawn, meaning they're more likely to cross into traffic during those times. They often travel in groups. Where there is one deer, there are probably more right behind it.
According to the State Farm data, drivers in Pennsylvania are the second-most likely drivers to get into an accident involving a deer. Only West Virginia ranks higher.
Your odds of hitting a deer in Pennsylvania are 1 in 71. That's up 7.8 percent from last year.
Experts say you can't always rely on technology to keep the deer off the road. Things like barriers and deer whistles or sirens are great, but they're not foolproof.
They say, if you're driving at night, be sure to wear your seatbelt and keep your high beams on if there's no oncoming traffic.
Even if you're on a road where you've never seen a deer cross, that doesn't mean they won't run in front of your car.
Changes in habitat such as construction, hunters nearby, the weather or even a buck chasing a doe can cause deer to travel to places they normally wouldn't.
If you do get into an accident and there isn't much damage to your car, consider yourself lucky.
State Farm says the average cost of a deer versus vehicle claim is $3,888.00, up nearly 14 percent from 2013.
State Farm Spokesperson Dave Phillips joined the "KDKA Morning News" with Larry Richert and John Shumway to talk about the statistics.
If you're about to hit a deer, Phillips says that you shouldn't swerve even though that may be your first instinct.
"The problem is you can make the collision worse by flipping the car, or if you're in a wooded area, ending up hitting a tree. Sometimes the best thing to do is to actually collide with the deer and that's because the impact from the deer may be far less than some of the other damage that could occur," he said.
Phillips said 18 percent of deer crashes happen in November because of deer mating and hunting season.
State Farm Spokesperson Dave Phillips
(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
for more features.