Living in a county with its own Deer Management Program, Fairfax residents need to be cautious when driving on county roads at night. With an 11% increase in Virginia car accidents involving deer in 2019, drivers need to know the best strategy for when deer run into the road.
Why Do Deer Run into Cars?
You might be wondering why run-ins with deer are so common. Here are some reasons deer run into the road:
- Some deer may be spooked by loud traffic. Instead of running away from cars, they may become disoriented and run into the road. This is especially true in rural areas.
- During mating season, male deer become highly focused on reproduction. This is why the Fall is the most hazardous time of year for deer accidents. Deer cover more ground in search of a mate.
- The road may be between a deer and its feeding or resting area.
Here are what we consider the do’s and don’ts of dealing with deer.
What Not To Do
- Don’t swerve suddenly. For several reasons, you should avoid swerving suddenly, especially if you are travelling at high speeds. More often than not, jerking the wheel will result in you losing control of the vehicle and can cause more significant damage by hitting other cars or fixed objects. In addition, swerving may result in hitting the deer when just staying in your lane may avoid a collision.
- Don’t assume it's safe to continue driving. If you collide with a deer, your vehicle may sustain more damage than you think, so pulling over in a safe spot to assess damage and contact the police is always a good option.
- Don’t go near the deer. With hooves and antlers, a spooked and injured deer might be dangerous and cause injury to you if you try to approach it.
What To Do Instead
If you find yourself with deer in the path of your vehicle or see deer on the side of the road while driving at night, it's important to remain calm and cautious. Here are a few things you can do if you're driving in a heavily deer-populated area.
- Use headlights on the bright setting whenever possible. This allows you to get a broader view of the road and surrounding areas when driving late at night or early morning.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Look for deer hazard signs and avoid distractions. Pay full time and attention to your driving. Holding your cell phone while driving is illegal, and using your cell phone for any reason should be avoided.
- Hit the brakes. An Indiana police sergeant gave the advice of braking firmly while staying steady and then letting off the brake right before impact. This can lessen the impact of the deer on your vehicle and avoid them hitting the windshield.
- Honk the horn. Honk your horn at the same time you hit your brakes. The noise will likely spook the deer and get them to move off the roadway. If an impact is going to occur quickly, keep your hands on the wheel and do not try to honk your horn. Deployment of your airbag due to an impact can cause you more injury if your hands are not on the wheel.
Weiner, Spivey & Miller, PLC is committed to helping those who sustain injuries in car accidents of any kind. If you have been injured in an accident call (703) 215-9982 or visit our website to schedule a free consultation.