Accidents Involving Deer Strikes Underscore Seasonal Danger

Drivers face a slew of hazards on the road each day ranging from aggressive drivers to weather conditions. However, one of the most dangerous and costly hazards is seasonal and is at its peak right now in Virginia. Statistics from the Insurance Information Institute indicate one of the deadliest traffic hazards this time of year is the white-tailed deer.

Accidents involving deer result in tens of thousands of injuries, approximately 150 deaths and $4.6 billion in insurance claims every year. Most deer-related collisions occur during the months of October, November and December. This is generally attributed to deer mating season and foraging before the winter months. Accidents reach their peak in the month of November.

Two serious accidents in Clarke County involving deer strikes on Route 7 in the past two weeks highlight the danger that increased deer activity poses.

The latest accident occurred Saturday evening on eastbound Route 7 near Wrights Mill Rd. In that incident the driver struck a deer which then came through the windshield of the vehicle and landed in the passenger compartment. There were no serious injuries but eastbound Route 7 was closed as a result of the accident.

In an incident that occurred on October 26th, an early morning deer strike escalated into a two car accident that sent two drivers to the hospital and closed Route 7 at Mount Weather for hours during the morning commute.

Both of these accidents occurred at the peak times for deer activity, dusk and dawn. Twilight poses challenging conditions for drivers and when combined with the unpredictable behavior deer exhibit in close proximity to traffic, it’s a formula for disaster.

To decrease the risk police and other safety officials are asking drivers to slow down and be alert in areas were deer are frequently seen. After dark drivers should use high-beam headlights, when appropriate, to increase their range of vision. Also, if a deer is on or near the road, slow down immediately and be vigilant because where there is one deer there are often many more.

Virginia Farm Bureau Safety Manager Jimmy Maass spoke on the issue and provided advice for drivers saying, “Don’t swerve if a deer is in the road. Brake firmly but keep the vehicle headed in a straight line. Swerving can confuse the animal and prevent it from picking a direction to flee, and, worse yet, the driver could lose control and crash.”

If you do hit a deer or other animal in the road, “make sure everyone in your vehicle is OK and not injured, then call 911 and report the incident,” Maass said. “Keep a safe distance from the animal, especially if it has been injured. Injured animals may hurt you while trying to protect themselves or get away.”

Comments

  1. We should hold the state accountable for these numerous accidents. With such short hunting seasons and all the different fees that go with different types of hunting permits. The whitetail population is terribly out of control. Purchase one hunting permit and use the legal weapon of your choice when that season is current. Stop the permits for each different weapon. Most people can’t afford that kind of cash

    • Maybe we should hold the state accountable when the roads are icy and someone slides off the road or into another vehicle and causes damage and injury. Heck, let’s just send a bill to God.

      • Sid, you are almost funny. Most of the time the ice does not come running from the woods/field along the edge of the road ending under the tires of my vehicle sending me into a violent skid. Who, when it’s all said and done has the final say about the whitetail population? Could it just maybe be the state? We may get a better response from god.

    • We do border WV. What if the deer originated in WV? Do we do DNA testing?

  2. GOPjunkie says:

    Clarke is particularly bad because almost no-one allows hunting in the county.. Clarke’s deer population is out of control…

  3. We do not allow hunting on our property because of attitudes like Smitty! Always looking for someone else to blame. Once he shoots someone he would probably blame the state for letting him shoot so close to someones home! It is called taking control of your actions! SLOW DOWN!!!!!!!!! People want to move out to the country but drive like maniacs to work in the city!

    • really, I have hunted all my life. I have never come close to shooting anyone. I am also a by the book hunter. You have taken my attitude completly out of context. I blame the state because a hunter has to have a hunting permit for each legal weapon he chooses to hunt with.ie. bow permit, muzzle loader and general firearms permit. New law this season. When muzzle season came in you can no longer hunt with the bow. Each of these permits average close to $20.00 a piece. I live in small sub-division a few miles south of town. I can’t count the number of deer on my fingers that are in my yard each morning and eveing. I wish I could shoot in my yard. I could have all the vension i needed. They destroy my bushes and garden during the growing season. !5 years ago i may see one deer every once in a while

      • So let’s say that the state is held responsible for these accidents as you suggest and let’s say that only one hunting permit is required. Can you imagine how expensive that one license would be? If the state were held accountable, the funds they would need would have to come from somewhere to pay for all these accidents!

        • They could lower the cost of the permit. if only one was required, no extra paper for bow, muzzle loader ect… Who knows you may attract more hunters, Somthing has to be done to relieve the population of these animals. They have become a terrible nuisance. They are no longer special to see as they were 40 years ago. I can remember hunting in my late teens and go the entire season and not see a deer.

          • I don’t disagree that something needs to be done, I just don’t know that what you suggest will fix the problem. I know lots of hunters and no matter their financial situtation, they all buy all the licenses they need to hunt they way they want to.

            I think the bigger issue is like someone else mentioned and that’s the lack of places to hunt. People are concerned with personal liability anymore and I can’t say I blame them since the common trend anymore is to pass the blame for accidents, etc. I know several people who would love to hunt Clarke, they just don’t know people who allow it to happen.

          • Kim, Let me beat this dead horse one more time. A conversation with a VA game warden. As stated before I have deer in my yard just about every day of the year. In a small sub-division mostly 1 acre lots.

            I ask this gentleman what can I do to discourage the animals from hanging out at my house. I can walk off my deck into the yard and the deer just look at me. When I approach them they walk away slowly. If I stop they will not leave. Fire works no longer scare them off.

            He answered my question with a statement that for a moment floored me. He said, Sir those are natural habits of the deer. I know better, an answer like this from a game offical leads me to wonder if the state even cares if there is a over population problem.

          • Well it is currently archery season. You may not be able to hunt with a firearm but…

          • James, Unless i misinterpted the new hunting rules for this season. I understood that when muzzle loading season came in you could no longer hunt with a bow. Correct me if I am wrong. I do hunt with bow. But I live in a sub-division can’t shoot here. I am sure folks next door would not like a bleeding deer running across there lawn.

          • They run concurrently…

            Early Archery Season – October 1 through November 18: Statewide
            Early Muzzleloader Season – November 5 through November 18

            There is an Urban Archery season in September which includes the City of Winchester, but I don’t know where you reside. I can’t find anything specific in the Berryville Town code about archery.

            Who knows, your neighbors may not mind you culling the herd if you are a good shot 🙂

  4. Because I Care says:

    True. There needs to be more hunting allowed in Clarke county, if only for 2 or 3 days. Either that or the wildlife authorities should thin the herd and donate the meat to the local food pantries.

    • Organized hunts are are a good way to thin the population, however the problem is, there really are very few places to hunt in Clarke County. I totally understand #really comment about not allowing hunters on their property as well. I have seen a consistent decline in stewardship and safety from hunters over the years that is appalling. Based on that and the outright poachers that wander onto private property, the sport of hunting has gone into terminal decline in our area.

      Add to that the fact that few food pantries could handle a large influx of meat that needs to be frozen and the whole scenario turns into a no-go.

      I don’t know what the answer is but with the wasting disease setting in, the situation may, unfortunately correct itself.

  5. It’s funny, but when I go to buy my hunting license, it says the fees go to “wildlife management”. Only I haven’t seen much in the way of “management”. I was pretty much gone from the area for almost 25 years. It used to be the only deer you saw (If you saw them at all) were running over a ridge with their tail in the air. Now, the damn things almost walk up to you. It’s not even sporting to shoot them anymore. The ground birds are gone because there are too many protected predators. Clarke County has always had fox problems because the hunt club wants them all to themselves and doesn’t allow them to be killed. I heard somebody thought it was a good idea to introduce red talied hawks into the area to control some varment or another, but now the things are everywhere and tearing up the small bird population. I also heard there was a movement to introduce wolves into the area to control the coyotes. I REALLY hope this isn’t true. I once flew with an Alaska State trooper to resue a man whose plane had crapped out and gone down on a frozen river. When we got there there 10-15 wolves trying to get dinner inside. Those things eat kids

    And yes, I know the deer population has increased in part because of destruction of habitat, but they are $3000 worth of damage to your car standing on the side of the road. Not to mention that wasting disease is starting to show up here

    Perhaps one year we could have some real “management” with an Oct thru Jan rifle season. That would thin the heard a bit

  6. Deer Harvester says:

    One big change I hear is coming soon is Sunday hunting, this would double the oppurtunity for the average hunter, who works Monday through Friday dark to dark, also it woud put good ole Virginia on the same playing field as most other states. Personally, I extended the season by picking up the bow years ago, it’s also more challenging, and folks tend to let you hunt with a bow where they might not with a firearm.

  7. What is wasting disease among deer? How did it origniate? I have heard about Mad Cow Disease among livestock.

    • It’s the same thing. It’s also known as Crutchfield/Jacobs disease

    • Chronic Wasting Disease. Google “VDGIF” and there is information on the status of the disease, testing, etc. in Virginia.

      A small handful of deer have tested positive for CWD in western Frederick County. As I understood it when first reported several years ago, it was suspected that an infected deer had escaped an enclosure or “deer farm” area and was found near Gore.