State wildlife officials and insurance companies are warning drivers to keep an eye out for deer in the road this season, with nearly 500 drivers likely to strike a deer over the next three months in Northern Virginia.
Fall is the breeding season for deer, so they will be more active over the next couple of months than at any other time of the year, according to state officials with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Motorists also will be driving more often in the dark, increasing the likelihood of encountering a deer on the road.
The risk of a collision involving a large animal more than doubles in October, November and December, according to State Farm, which releases annual state rankings for deer strikes.
This year, Virginia is ranked 12th in deer collisions, down from 11th in the last two years. But the odds of hitting a large animal in the state have climbed from 1 in 99 motorists to 1 in 76 motorists, according to the State Farm report.
Deer strikes in Northern Virginia, Oct.-Dec.
|Prince William County||58||60||76||85||74||77|
In Northern Virginia, deer strikes in the fall months are down slightly, but totals have been relatively consistent over the past few years, according to state crash data.
In Loudoun County, wrecks involving deer between October and December climbed to 167, the highest number of these wrecks the county has seen since 2014. In Manassas, the number of wrecks involving deer climbed from just one in 2017 to five last year. Increases were also reported in Arlington County (climbing from one to four) and Stafford County (up three to 39).
This type of wreck was down in Prince William County from 76 in 2016 and 60 in 2017 to 58 last year. Numbers also decreased in Fauquier County (122, down five from the previous year), Fairfax County (down four to 59), and Fredericksburg (down from 11 in 2017 to just three last year).
AVOIDING DEER STRIKES
The state recommends the following tips to avoid hitting a deer:
1. Slow down and be attentive, particularly from dusk to dawn. If you see one deer, watch out for others.
2. Deer habitually travel the same areas. Use caution when you see deer crossing signs in these areas.
3. Apply brakes, even stop if necessary, to avoid hitting a deer but never swerve out of the lane to miss a deer. A collision with another vehicle, tree or other object is likely to be more serious than hitting a deer.
4. Always wear a seat belt. Even if a collision is unavoidable, you are more likely to avoid injury or death if you are wearing a seat belt.
5. If you kill a deer or bear while driving, immediately report the accident to a conservation police officer or other law enforcement officer where the accident occurred.
6. If you kill a deer or bear while driving, you may keep it for your own use if you report the accident to a law enforcement officer where the accident occurred, and the officer views the animal and gives you a possession certificate.