Watch Out for Deer on Virginia Roads

The month of October marks the beginning of deer mating season in Virginia. According to 2019 crash data provided by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, 6,523 crashes involved deer collisions, with the majority (53%) of incidents (3,477) happening in the last three months of the year. According to a 2020 study of all 50 states, Virginia drivers have a “high risk” of colliding with a deer during this time period, with November historically having the peak of deer collisions.

Deer tend to travel in herds and remain relatively confined to small areas. The Department of Transportation identifies herds of deer and posts deer-crossing signs in high-risk areas. In the coming months, it will be especially important for Virginia drivers to be on the lookout for deer where deer-crossing signs are posted.

It is estimated that deer cause over $1 billion annually in automobile damages!

In the case of a deer-vehicle collision, it is the responsibility of the driver or the driver’s insurance company to cover any damages associated with the accident. AAA Mid-Atlantic reports that “the average claim paid to a Virginia driver after a deer collision [in 2019] was $3,12,800.” With damages often surpassing that amount, it is important to carry insurance that will cover any expenses related to a deer-vehicle crash. These figures do not include the Virginia personal injuries caused by car accidents with deer. While sometimes the only damage is to property, a collision with a deer can cause an accident with injuries.

How to Avoid a Deer-Vehicle Collision

  • Go at or below the speed limit in high risk areas with posted deer-crossing signs
  • Deer are most active between 6-9pm, slow down and watch for “eye shine” at the side of the road
  • Use your horn to scare deer out of your path of travel
  • Avoid flashing your lights at the deer; this can cause them to pause and fixate on your vehicle
  • DO NOT SWERVE – you increase your risk of hitting another car or fixed object such as a tree or pole which greatly increases the risk of injuries from the car collision
  • If you are certain that you cannot avoid contact, slow down and release the break immediately before impact, decreasing the risk of the deer penetrating your windshield