If you've lived in this area for any length of time, you're probably aware that we're in the midst of deer mating season, a time of year when car-versus-deer incidents really go up.

Maybe you've been lucky all these years (as I have been) and never had the experience of striking a deer on one of Northern Illinois' streets, highways, or back roads. However, we all know someone that hasn't been so fortunate.

Many years ago, my broadcast partner at the time, Rick, was late coming into work, and I had received no phone call that he'd be running behind. When I finally did get a call, he informed me that he was at Swedish American Hospital after a collision with a deer on Meridian Road early that morning.

The word collision is a bit tame for what happened.

As he was on his way to the radio station, a very large buck ran out of a farm field directly into Rick's path. His very large SUV (and, of course, the deer) didn't survive the encounter, and Rick nearly didn't either. A wrenched neck, rib injuries, and other bruises and abrasions kept him off work for nearly a week, and his SUV was a total loss. Afterwards, he told me that when October arrived each year, he dealt with a high degree of anxiety every time he got behind the wheel, imagining a repeat deer encounter.

So, what are the odds it'll happen to you and/or me?

I found it surprising that Illinois is ranked as a "medium-risk" state when it comes to deer/vehicle collisions. In the United States as a whole, drivers have about a 1 in 116 chance of hitting a deer (or other animal). Here in Illinois, the odds are 1 in 148State Farm found in its 18th annual deer-vehicle collision study released this week.

West Virginia is the state with the greatest likelihood of animal collisions for the 14th year in a row, the study shows. There's a 1 in 37 chance of a driver hitting a deer or other animal in the Mountaineer State. In 2019, State Farm had 7,721 auto claims for animal collisions in West Virginia.

The other states in the top ten include Montana, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Mississippi, Minnesota and Wyoming.

If you're looking to move to a state where your chances of an animal encounter go way down, you'll want to look at Hawaii. Hawaii is the state where it's least likely for a driver to hit an animal, with a reported rate there of 1 in 642. California and Arizona are the second and third least-likely states for animal collisions.

Place your bets.