Virginia drivers entering peak season for deer collisions

deer carVirginia drivers’ odds of a collision with a deer are 1 in 97, compared to the national odds of 1 in 169. Those odds are more in Virginia drivers’ favor than in 2013, when they were 1 in 88.

The deer migration and mating season runs from October through December, causing a dramatic increase in movement among Virginia’s deer population and resulting in more collisions on roadways, with the largest amount in November.

Virginia is ranked 10th nationwide for the deer collisions. In 2014, Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. received 2,415 claims related to collisions with deer out of 101,167 personal, commercial and fleet auto policies. That marks a decrease from 2013, when the company received 2,971 claims related to collisions with deer.

The 2014 claims led to more than $6.36 million in losses, with an average loss of $2,636 per claim.

“While we still see a lot of collisions with deer in the months of October, November and December, the numbers were down last year, and we hope to see low numbers again this year,” said Rick Mattox, VFBMIC vice president of claims. “Also, while the number of collisions may have decreased, the cost per claim for a vehicle involved in a deer collision has risen to about $4,100, so these collisions are still costly.”

Drivers should travel slowly and be aware of their surroundings. Deer are most likely to be seen at dusk and dawn near tree-lined roadways or 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 roads.

Always slow down if you see one run across the road in front of you; it’s likely there is at least one more 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.

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