The fall rutting season for deer means a bump in business for companies such as Terry’s Body Shop in Purcellville.
“I’ve personally hit a deer. They’re all over the place,” said employee Scott Hoyden.
Loudoun County deer-car collisions are on the rise. The county saw 364 reported incidents in 2007, 353 in 2008 and then a big jump in 2009 with 416. As of Nov. 19, there were 287 reported collisions for 2010.
Virginia is ranked in the top 10 states for its number of deer-vehicle collisions. A new study by State Farm insurance finds that deer collision claims are up 21 percent over the last five years, even though the miles driven by motorists have only increased by 2 percent.
“We’ve been seeing an uptick in deer collisions this year,” said John Townsend, AAA mid-Atlantic public affairs manager for the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. “They’re everywhere.”
The number of collisions appears to have heightened concerns about deer – especially when costly repairs are involved.
“The average repair bill can run from the $1,500 range all the way up to $6,000. Most of the time it’s front-end damage―radiator, bumper, etc.,” Hoyden said.
Customers typically say they didn’t hit the deer, the deer hit the car – an assessment Hoyden concurs with based on his personal experiences.
“I couldn’t avoid it – the deer actually hit me,” Hoyden said.
Townsend said motorists should be vigilant while driving this time of year and should also know the safest way to hit a deer, if it is unavoidable. Most injuries occur when drivers try to avoid hitting the deer, he said, so motorists should not swerve to avoid the animal.
He also noted, from an insurance perspective, that if a driver swerves into a tree, embankment or other vehicle to avoid hitting a deer, the driver will be found to
be at fault. If a motorist strikes a deer, it is considered to be the deer’s fault.
The last three months of the year are deer-mating and migration season, making this an especially dangerous time for deer and motorists. The risks are compounded by the growing deer population and animal displacement due to urban sprawl.
“Keep your eyes open. Keep scanning side to side,” Hoyden said. “That’s about all you can do.”
Matt Vecchio contributed to this story.
The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office has issued the following tips:
·Stay aware, awake and sober.
·Wear your safety belts; they are your best defense in any collision.
·Car-deer crashes occur year-round, but be especially alert in the fall and spring
·Heed deer crossing and speed limit signs. Signs are placed at known deer crossing areas to alert you of the possible presence of the animal.
·Deer are herd animals and frequently travel in single file. If you see one deer cross the road, chances are there are more behind.
·Be alert for deer, especially at dawn and dusk. If you see one, slow down.
If the accident is unavoidable:
·Don’t swerve. Brake firmly, hold onto the steering wheel and bring your vehicle to a controlled stop.
·Pull off the road and turn on your emergency flashers.
·Don’t attempt to remove a deer from the roadway unless you are convinced it is dead. An injured deer’s sharp hooves can easily hurt you.
·Report the accident to the nearest law enforcement agency and your insurance company.
|The Loudoun Times-Mirror
is an interactive, digital replica
of the printed newspaper.Open the e-edition now.