How to drive safely in Virginia during deer mating season

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(WFXR) — Fall is deer mating season, which means these animals are more active and more likely to encounter drivers on the road at night.

According to AAA, in 2020, a driver crashed into a deer once every two hours between October and December. Every year, more than a million car crashes in the United States involve deer.

In fact, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) says that about half of all deer-vehicle collisions occur during October, November, and December.

Here are some ways to avoid a crash with a deer, especially during mating season:

  • Stay alert. Experts say deer are most active between dusk and dawn, so it is crucial to be aware of your surroundings during that time.
  • Slow down. Drivers should keep their eyes on the roads at all time, as well as be aware of the side of the road. If you do see a deer, make sure to drive slowly, especially since they typically travel in groups.
  • Brake firmly and avoid swerving. If you see a deer, stay calm and push firmly on your brakes. Wanting to swerve is natural, but since deer are unpredictable, swerving could be harmful in many ways.

“Unfortunately many crashes, many of the deaths and injuries that occur because people drive off the road ways and hit a tree or something,” said Andy Alden, an animal-vehicle conflict mitigation expert with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

If you are in a collision with a deer, here are some tips on what you should do:

  • Pull over. If you end up getting into a crash with a deer, make sure you pull to the side of the road if it’s safe to do so.
  • Turn your hazard lights on.
  • Call police if there are injuries or if your car is damaged. Also, make sure to inform police if the deer is in a dangerous spot on the road so the animal can be removed.
    • If the crash kills the deer, you are required to report it to a Conservation Police Officer or other authorities in the city or county where the crash occurred.
  • Stay in your car. If the animal is alive after the collision, it could be injured, confused, and dangerous if approached.

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