AA and DMV warn: Animal strikes on the rise in Virginia
In 2015, Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles logged a statewide total of 6,205 animal-vehicle crashes (up from 5,788 in 2014) leading to one fatality and 589 personal injuries (up 18% from personal injuries in 2014). There were also 5,696 property damage crashes (up 7% compared to 2014).
“AAA urges everyone on the roadways to be vigilant no matter what road they travel, but especially those on rural, wooded roads and during commuting times which coincide with high times of deer activity.” said Tammy Arnette, Senior Public Affairs Specialist for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “A deer can suddenly bolt onto the road, catching drivers off guard and resulting in serious vehicle damage, personal injury, or even death.”
“It is frightening and dangerous when a deer leaps onto the car seemingly out of nowhere,” said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative, who survived a crash with a deer. “Staying keenly alert is your best defense, particularly this time of year. With your seat belt fastened at all times, follow posted speed limits and watch for deer crossing warning signs – they are there for a reason.”
AAA Mid-Atlantic and Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles has some tips to help avoid potentially deadly and costly accidents involving all kinds of animals:
- Keep your eyes moving back and forth. Continuously sweep your eyes across the road in front of you for signs of animals and movement. Animals may also be alongside the road, so make sure to look to the right and left, as well. While the most likely accident is you hitting an animal, on occasion they might also hit you by running into the side of your car.
- Be especially attentive in early morning and evening hours. Many animals, especially deer, are most active from 5-8 a.m. and 5-8 p.m. – prime commuting times for many people.
- Use high beams when there’s no oncoming traffic. You can spot animals sooner. Sometimes the light reflecting off their eyes will reveal their location.
- Slow down, and watch for other deer to appear. Deer rarely travel alone, so if you see one, there are likely to be more nearby.
- Slow down around curves. It’s harder to spot animals down the road when going around curves.
- One long blast. A long blast on your horn may frighten animals away from your vehicle.
- Use brakes if an impact is imminent. Don’t swerve. Instead, stay in your lane. Swerving away from animals can confuse them so they don’t know which way to run. It can also put you in the path of oncoming vehicles or cause you to crash into something like a lamppost or a tree.
- Always wear a seatbelt. The chances of getting injured when hitting an animal are much higher if you don’t have your seatbelt on. Also never drive drunk, distracted or drowsy.
- Don’t go near a wounded animal. A wounded animal can be unpredictable and cause injury. If it’s in the middle of the road and blocking traffic, call the police immediately.
- Consider purchasing comprehensive insurance, if you don’t already have it. Comprehensive insurance is the type of insurance that covers animal strikes.