Fall is here and along with colorful leaves, crisp air, and shorter days, comes increased deer movements. Fall is the breeding season for white-tailed deer, so deer will be more active throughout November and December than at any other time of the year. Deer also take advantage of road side edges for foraging, particularly as other fall foods become limited. With shorter days as we transition into winter, motorists will be driving more often in the dark, increasing the likelihood of encountering a deer on the road.
The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) recommends the following tips to avoid hitting a deer:
- Slow down and be attentive, particularly at night (from dusk to dawn).
- If you see one deer, slow down and watch out for others. Deer frequently travel in family groups.
- Deer habitually travel and cross roads in the same areas. Use caution when you see deer crossing signs installed in these areas by the Virginia Department of Transportation.
- Apply brakes, even stop if necessary, to avoid hitting a deer, but do not swerve out of the lane to miss a deer. A collision with another vehicle, tree or other object is likely to be more serious than hitting a deer.
- Always wear a seat belt! Even if a collision is unavoidable, you are more likely to avoid injury or death if you are wearing a seat belt.
- If you hit or kill a deer or bear while driving, immediately report the accident to a local law enforcement officer in the county or city where the accident occurred.
- If you kill a deer or bear while driving, you may keep it for your own use if you report the accident to a local law enforcement officer where the accident occurred and the officer (or Conservation Police Officer) views the animal and gives you a possession certificate.
For more information, see this video PSA on deer/vehicle safety.