High Risk for Deer Collisions, Drive Cautiously

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Our deer are in a rut and that means we need to be extra vigilant while driving.

The white-tailed deer in our area are in mating season, also referred to as the rut. It begins in October, peaking in November and continues in December. It is the time of year when these four-legged animals are most active, according to the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries.

Unfortunately, this also means a higher number vehicle collisions. Each year, more than 50 percent of all deer-vehicle collisions occur October through December.

 

Who to Call
  • If a deer is injured or killed, immediately report the collision to the police department non-emergency number at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.
  • If you come across dead deer on a roadway that needs to be removed, please contact VDOT at 1-800-FOR-ROAD (367-7623), TTY 711, or use VDOT’s online work request.

 

High-Risk Facts 

Deer are especially active pre-dawn to mid-morning and dusk to early evening. These periods of activity correspond with the time when many of you are commuting to and from work or school. Fairfax County Police urge you to drive cautiously during this time and be on the lookout for deer crossing roadways.

According to a 2015-2016 State Farm Insurance report, Virginia is a high-risk state for deer collisions. Ranked 13th nationally, we have a 1 in 94 likelihood of filing an insurance claim due to a collision with a deer.

National map showing likelihood of filing a claim for a deer collision.

Credit – State Farm Insurance

 

10 Driving Tips You Should Know
  1. Be especially attentive at dusk and dawn, which are prime time for movement.
  2. Watch for eye shine along roadsides. Deer travel in herds. If you see one, others may be near.
  3. Use high beams when traffic permits to spot deer at a greater distance.
  4. Be aware of posted “Deer Crossing” signs. Signs are placed in areas known for high deer traffic.
  5. If a deer is stopped in the roadway, reduce speed and flash your headlights. They can become mesmerized or blinded by bright steady lights.
  6. If a deer jumps in your vehicle’s path, continue to reduce speed and grasp steering wheel firmly with both hands.
  7. Never swerve to avoid deer on the road. Swerving can cause loss of control of your vehicle and greatly increase the chance of more serious damage or injury.
  8. Take foot off brake at time of impact. This action reduces the likelihood of deer crashing through a windshield or windows upon impact.
  9. Never depend on hood whistles, car horns, or other devices to scare deer out of your path. Several studies have shown that these methods do not always work.
  10. Always drive the posted speed limit and wear your seat belt.

Deer Management Efforts in Fairfax County
Deer management sign posted in Burke.

Sign posted in Burke area.

Our Deer Management Program helps to reduce the impacts of our overabundant deer, which include thousands of deer-vehicle collisions, the potential spread of disease, as well as environmental damage. The program uses the most safe, effective, and sustainable deer management methods currently permitted by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, including:
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