Virginia drivers are more likely to hit a deer in the coming year than drivers in most other states, with odds of 1 in 88, compared to the national odds of 1 in 169.
The white-tailed deer migration and mating season runs from October through December, causing a dramatic increase in movement among Virginia’s deer population. One result is an increase in collisions during those months, with the heaviest amount in November.
Virginia is ranked ninth nationwide for number of deer collisions. In 2013, Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. had 2,971 claims related to vehicle collisions with deer, out of 103,708 personal and commercial auto policies. The claims led to more than $7.56 million in losses, with an average loss of $2,547 per claim. The national cost per claim average is $3,888, up 13.9 percent from last year, when the average was $3,414.
“During the fourth quarter of each year we see a significant increase in the number of vehicles striking deer,” said Rick Mattox, VFBMIC vice president of claims. “Almost 28 percent of the total auto claims handled by Virginia Farm Bureau during the months of October, November and December are related to vehicles striking deer.”
In the coming months motorists should be more mindful of their speed and aware of their surroundings. Deer are most likely to be seen at dusk and dawn near tree-lined roadways and areas that transition from open fields to forest or water. Drivers must remember that deer are wild animals and often exhibit unpredictable behaviors when on or near roadways.
A deer, like any other animal, is going to cross the road at what it believes is the safest time. Always slow down if you see one run across the road in front of you, because it’s likely there is another one behind it.
Deer crossing signs are posted to warn drivers that certain stretches of road are commonly populated with deer.
When driving after dark, use high-beam headlights to increase the range of vision. If a deer is spotted on or near the road, slow down immediately and do not swerve. Brake firmly, but keep the vehicle headed in a straight line.