Fall Driving: Be Alert for Deer


Deer-vehicle collisions can cause extensive damage and/or injury.

Fall is here and white-tailed deer are on the move. Fall is the breeding season for deer and drivers can expect to see more of them on the roadways as they search for mates. Deer movements and behaviors are unpredictable and deer-vehicle collisions are a serious public safety concern.

According to an October 2017 State Farm report, Virginia ranks 11th in the nation for the likelihood of drivers being involved in a collision with a deer. One out of 94 drivers will have an insurance claim in 2017 as a result of a deer-vehicle collision. The average national cost per claim from July 2016 through June 2017 was $4,179, up from $3,995 last year.

Approximately 50 percent of all deer-vehicle collisions occur during the months of October, November and December. Deer are especially active pre-dawn to mid-morning, and dusk to early evening. These periods of activity correspond with the time when many Fairfax County residents are commuting to and from work or school. Drive cautiously, especially during these times, and be on the lookout for deer on our roadways.

We, along with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, urge motorists to be alert, drive carefully and remember these safety tips:

  • Watch for eye shine along roadsides. If you see one deer, likely there will be others. If one deer crosses the road as you approach, others may follow.
  • Use high beams when traffic permits to spot deer at a greater distance.
  • If a deer is stopped in the roadway, reduce speed and flash your headlights. Deer can become mesmerized or blinded by bright steady lights.
  • Drivers should apply brakes, even stop if necessary, to avoid hitting a deer, but should never 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.
  • Take foot off brake at time of impact. This action reduces the likelihood of deer crashing through a windshield or windows upon impact.
  • Rely on your caution and your own senses. Never depend on hood whistles, car horns, or other devices to scare deer out of your path. Several studies have shown that these devices do not always work.
  • Drivers who collide with a deer (or bear), thereby killing the animal, may keep it for their own use provided that they report the accident to a law enforcement officer where the accident occurred and the officer views the animal and gives the person a possession certificate.

If a deer is injured or killed, immediately report the collision to us on our non-emergency line at 703-691-2131.

For more information, please see the following video PSA on deer/vehicle safety:

Stay Alert! Deer are on Move: https://youtu.be/PXdtN-pJilM.