As we enter the final month of deer mating season, Virginia drivers need to remain on high alert. Deer cause more than 1.6 million motor vehicle crashes in the United States each year, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
These crashes spike from October to December, when deer activity rises. Virginia ranks as the tenth most likely state for a driver to be involved in a car crash with a deer. To avoid becoming part of this statistic, pay close attention to what’s around you, especially as you pass through deer-populated areas.
Mind the Signs
Experts recommend paying close attention to the deer crossing signs that are on the sides of the road. They are placed specifically in locations where deer often congregate.
If there is a deer in the road, slow down as much as you can to give the deer time to leave the roadway or at least lessen the impact. Do not swerve to try to avoid the deer.
Check the Clock
Be extra attentive to the road in the early morning and evening. Deer are more active at these times as they seek mates and may appear in places where they normally would not be. Since road visibility can be low during these times, try turning on your high-beam headlights to get a better view—just make sure you tone them down when oncoming traffic approaches.
Look for the Pack
Deer don’t usually travel alone, so if you see one in your path, keep your eyes open for the rest of the group. Slow down (or stop) and do your best not to swerve if a deer enters the road—you don’t want to cause one type of accident while trying to avoid another. Also, be sure to leave plenty of space between you and the cars around you, in case you need to brake quickly.
Have a Plan
Deer are unpredictable animals. While you can take many steps to improve your safety, you can’t defend yourself against every possible scenario. If you do get in an accident with a deer, see if anyone is injured and call the local police and/or medical services. Do not attempt to touch a deer that’s in or near the road. Since there’s likely to be damage to your vehicle, make sure you also contact your insurance agent to report the accident.