Jumping deer

Deer leaping through a yard in Montclair. Photo by Nadege Watson

Fall is breeding season for deer, and area motorists can expect to see more of them on local roads in coming weeks, Fairfax County police said.

Deer are unpredictable and vehicle crashes with them are a safety concern, police said.

Hundreds of reportable accidents involving deer occur in the county each year, and more than half of those happen during in October, November and December. Deer are most active before sunrise to mid-morning, as well as dusk to early evening. Those times also are when many people are headed to and from work or school, police said.

Police urge motorists to pay attention, drive carefully and remember these safety tips:

• Always wear your seat belt and drive the posted speed limit.

• Do not text and drive. Avoid distractions.

• Watch for eyes shining along roadsides. If you see one deer, it is likely that there are others nearby.

• Use high beams, as traffic allows, to spot deer farther away. Be careful not to disrupt oncoming cars.

• If a deer is stopped in the roadway, slow down and flash your headlights. Deer can become mesmerized or blinded by bright, steady lights.

• Slow down or stop if necessary to avoid hitting a deer, but never swerve out of the lane to miss one. A crash with another car or anything along the roadside is likely to be more serious.

• Take your foot off the brake at time of the crash. This reduces the chance that a deer will crash through a windshield or windows when hit.

• If you get into a crash with a deer, try to move your car off the road and out of traffic.

• If your car is immobilized in the roadway, turn on your flashers and immediately call police. Try to wait at a safe spot off the road.

• Rely on your own senses. Never depend on hood whistles, car horns or other devices to scare deer out of your path.

• Pay attention to deer-crossing signs and be careful in areas where deer are known to travel.

• If a deer is injured or killed, immediately report the crash to the police department’s non-emergency line at (703) 691-2131.

[Sun Gazette Newspapers provides content to, but otherwise is unaffiliated with, InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media LLC.]

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