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State makes deer-vehicle accident top 10 list

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — Motorists take heed as deer-mating season begins this fall, says San Antonio, Texas-based auto insurer USAA. And Mississippians should be very wary as the state has one of the highest deer-vehicle accident rates in the nation.

Fatalities and injuries due to motor vehicle accidents declined from 2008 to 2009, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); however, USAA auto insurance claims records show that animal-vehicle collisions increased seven percent in the same period.

The data also indicates that animal-vehicle collisions across the country begin trending upward in September, with November spiking as the most collision-prone month. Last year, 69 percent more claims were filed for animal-vehicle collisions during the fall than in the spring. This correlates with the height of the deer breeding/mating season. Additionally, say wildlife experts, deer populations have escalated due to a lack of predators and new housing developments in traditional wildlife territories.

Collisions with animals are also costly, resulting in an average claim of $2,886 in 2009, according to USAA. They can also be deadly. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says that the number of human deaths from collisions with animals rose nearly 19 percent between 2001 and 2008, from 177 to 210.

In 2009, West Virginia had the highest frequency rate of animal-vehicle collisions, according to USAA. Mississippi ranked 10th, and was the only Southeastern state to make the ranking.

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