WASHINGTON — Drivers are more likely to encounter deer on area roadways in the coming months, as mating season has deer on the move through December.
Virginia has the 10th-highest rate of deer-vehicle collisions in the nation. Fairfax County police report contractors picked up more than 1,100 deer carcasses on county roadways last year.
At least 12,945 deer were hit by cars on Maryland roadways in 2013 — the most recent data available. At least 2,713 of those crashes happened in Montgomery County. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Wildlife and Heritage Service reports that the number should be considered a minimum estimate.
Deer tend to be most active in the hours before and after dusk and dawn. If you see deer on or near a roadway, expert advice to drivers includes the following:
- Give your car horn a long steady blast.
- Flash your high beams; deer can become mesmerized by steady bright lights.
- Slow down. Take your foot off the brake before impact, to minimize the chance the animal will penetrate windshield.
- If impact appears imminent, keep your steering wheel steady — do not swerve.
- If you see one deer, realize others likely are nearby.
- If you hit a deer, don’t touch it; the animal could still hurt you.
- Stay alert. When traveling through a known deer crossing area, keep both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
- Clean your windows and make sure all exterior lighting is working.
- Use peripheral vision. Scan each side of the road, and the distance, for potential deer movement.
AAA Insurance recommends getting your car off the road if you can and call the police and your insurance carrier. AAA Mid-Atlantic says this kind of crash is covered by the comprehensive part of your insurance policy. The average claim for deer damage to cars is $2,800 — if no one is hurt.