RICHMOND—Fall ushers in more than a change of seasons—it’s also the time when drivers encounter additional deer on roadways.
The deer migration and mating season runs from October through December, causing an increase in movement among Virginia’s deer population and resulting in more collisions, with the heaviest amount in November.
In 2018 Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. received 2,923 auto insurance claims related to collisions with deer, out of 105,203 personal, commercial and fleet auto policies. This is an increase from 2017, when there were 2,749 claims related to collisions with deer.
The claims led to more than $9.4 million in losses, with an average loss of $3,245 per claim. There were $8.1 million in losses in 2017.
“In the insurance industry, we continue to see more claims related to collisions with deer each year, especially during the fall and early winter,” said Rick Mattox, senior vice president of claims for VFBMIC. “But it’s important to remember that deer are a year-round problem and to stay watchful all year long.”
VFBMIC claims data matches the October-through-December pattern, with the highest number of deer collision claims occurring in November. In 2018 there were 373 collisions with deer in October, 515 in November and 367 in December, totaling 1,255 claims for the final quarter—almost half of all deer collisions claims for the year.
Drivers should travel slowly and be aware of their surroundings. When driving, keep your peripheral vision focused on the shoulders of the road for movement that might indicate the presence of deer.
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 roadways.
Always slow down if you see a deer run across the road in front of you; it’s likely that there are others following behind.
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 your range of vision. If you see a deer on or near the road, slow down immediately and do not swerve. Brake firmly, but keep the vehicle headed in a straight line.