OTTUMWA — The odds you will hit a deer while driving in Iowa are higher than virtually any state in the country. The irony? The odds actually dropped in the past year.
State Farm calculates the probabilities of a car v. deer collision each year and ranks the states according to how likely bumper is to meet Bambi. Iowa, where drivers have a one-in-73 chance of hitting a deer over the course of a year, is third nationally. Only West Virginia (one-in-41 chance) and Montana (one-in-65 chance) rank higher.
It was enough to raise Iowa by one spot on the listing, despite the overall likelihood of a collision falling by 9 percent. Every state in the top five saw a decline compared to last year, but other states fell faster than Iowa.
Even locally, there are still areas where drivers keep their eyes wide open. When the Courier asked readers on Facebook what spots they worry about, most cited rural roads. More than one mentioned areas around Blakesburg and others pointed to Highway 34 near Albia, which isn't far away. Rutledge Road also came in for complaints.
Ottumwa has deer hotspots, with drivers on roads around Wildwood Park and Memorial Park encountering deer on a regular basis. But there's a big difference between having a deer wander onto the road when you're going city speeds versus driving on the highway.
Running into a deer is usually expensive. The average cost of a collision is $3,414, up from the previous year. And, unlike most drivers, deer aren't known for keeping current insurance when they take to the road.
Nationally, the number of crashes involving deer has risen in the past five years. But the rate of increase is less than the increase in the number of drivers on the road. That means the chance of any given driver hitting a deer has dropped.