It's quite a scary experience, especially here in New Jersey. That moment when an animal jets out of nowhere and gets right in the way of where you're driving.

For us in the Garden State, where to swerve to avoid a possible collision is tricky. Aside from our roads being jam-packed with vehicles, our highways aren't always set up with adequate shoulders we can maneuver into.

Or, the highway has one of those dividers that aren't safe to drive into no matter the speed. Roadways with wall dividers, for example, give you nowhere to go.

We also drive fairly fast, making reaction time that much more limited. It's all why some New Jersey drivers might have a greater fear of driving on our roads than those in other states.

It might surprise you, however, that the odds of actually hitting an animal in the Garden State are fairly low when compared to many other states.

Deer at Sandy Hook at the Gateway National Recreation Area
Deer at Sandy Hook at the Gateway National Recreation Area (National Park Service)

A recent survey ranked all 50 states plus our nation's capital in order of which state is most likely and least likely to hit an animal while driving.

What's surprising here is that the odds of actually hitting an animal while driving in New Jersey are fairly low. That's not to say we're the least likely state to have an incident, but we are among the states where the odds aren't as high.

There are some possible theories as to why this is the case. And to note, these theories are just that, meaning they're simply based on ideas that might explain why the odds of a collision aren't as high as they could be.

Before we look into those theories, let's first see how each state ranks when it comes to the likelihood of hitting an animal while driving, including the state where an accident is most likely.

As mentioned earlier, the odds of an incident in New Jersey are surprisingly low from what some might believe.

LOOK: Here are the states where you are most likely to hit an animal

Hitting an animal while driving is a frightening experience, and this list ranks all 50 states in order of the likelihood of such incidents happening, in addition to providing tips on how to avoid them.
Ryan McVay

Topping the list when compared to all the states is West Virginia. Shouldn't be much of a surprise considering how much rural area there is in that part of the country.

With that said, how is New Jersey the 39th most likely state to have a collision with an animal? It's good we're on the lower end, but with how crowded and dense our roadways are, how can that be?

Well, our high population could be one of the reasons for this. Maybe animals in The Garden State have adapted to human activity so that they know better how to stay out of harm's way.

West Bay Ave GSP overpass Parkway
West Bay Ave GSP overpass (Google Maps)

Look at any highway with a large wooded median. One that contains lots of trees and grass, such as the Garden State Parkway. Ever notice when deer eat along the highway that they seem to know how to stay clear of cars zipping by?

Now yes, there are always exceptions here, but overall this tends to be the case. There do seem to be some smarts with these animals that tell them to stay clear of fast-driving vehicles.

That, of course, is just one theory. This next theory is also related to human activity, but not necessarily in a good way.

Perhaps the odds of hitting wildlife in New Jersey are lower simply because we don't give them many places to thrive. With such a densely populated state, places for wildlife to truly spread out and live is minimal.

Deer Crossing Road

As a result, there are just not as many animals to hit. Another possible theory as to why the odds aren't as high as one might think.

But whatever the reason is, it is reassuring to know that New Jersey roads aren't as dangerous as we might've thought when it comes to collisions with animals. Not the safest state, but certainly not the worse.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Mike Brant. Any opinions expressed are his own.

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