Chances Are You’ll Hit a Deer in PA

Deer crossing a road at dusk (photo by “i threw a guitar at him” via Flickr Creative Commons license)

8 October 2023

Fall is deer crash season in Pennsylvania. November, October and December, in that order, are the highest months for deer collisions because the animals are on the move in the breeding season.

During the rut, bucks travel an average of 3-6 miles per day searching for and chasing does in heat. Females split from their fawns when they find a mate and the youngsters wander. All age groups are crossing roads more frequently and all of them are distracted.

In Pennsylvania it’s especially important to stay alert because our high deer population increases the odds of a collision. Last month State Farm Insurance reported:

 State Farm estimates over 1.8 million auto insurance claims were filed across the industry from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023 involving animal collisions. Pennsylvania had the highest number of claims out of all the states, with an estimated 153,397 claims for the same time period.

Nationwide the odds of U.S. drivers hitting an animal are 1 in 127 this year. Drivers in West Virginia held on to the number one spot with the least favorable odds at 1 in 38. Montana (1 in 53), Pennsylvania (1 in 59), Michigan (1 in 60), Wisconsin (1 in 60) round out the top five most likely states to hit an animal while on the road.

State Farm: Likelihood of Hitting an Animal While Driving, 12 Sept 2023

PennDOT’s heat map of deer-vehicle collisions on state roads shows particularly high deer collisions in several areas including Allegheny County.

PennDOT heat map of deer-vehicle collisions on PennDOT roads in 2022 (generated at

In fact PennDOT statistics show that for 2018-2022 Allegheny County leads all Pennsylvania counties in deer-vehicle collisions. Your chance of hitting a deer in Pittsburgh is particularly high.

Deer spooked near the road in WV (photo by Mike Tewkesbury, Creative Commons license via Flickr)

Statewide the odds of hitting a deer — or a deer hitting you! — are 1 in 59 and probably higher in Pittsburgh. This means that each one of us knows someone who will hit a deer in the year ahead. It might be us.

Stay alert behind the wheel, especially at dawn and dusk. Watch out!

Read more about deer-vehicle collisions at WESA: Deer Danger: Pennsylvania is No. 1 in the U.S. for car crashes with animals.

(credits are in the captions; click on the links to see the originals)

p.s. An interesting statistic from Cornell University’s Community Deer Advisor website:

Hunter harvest is the primary cause of white-tailed deer mortality in rural landscapes, while deer in suburban landscapes are more likely to die in deer-vehicle collisions. [p.10]

Managing a deer herd via vehicle collisions is both inhumane and costly for community residents. [p.30]

Cornell University: Integrated Approach for Managing White-tailed Deer in Suburban Environments

One thought on “Chances Are You’ll Hit a Deer in PA

  1. Interesting that there is a big red spot on I-79 in Crawford County. That’s just about where we hit a deer in December a number of years ago going 70 mph on our way back from attending a concert at our daughter’s college in Erie. It did not end well for the deer or our car (almost totaled the car, did total the deer).

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