Deer collisions more likely this month

Published 10:50 pm Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bears might have been the stars of Suffolk’s wildlife in recent months, but as winter approaches, deer are stepping into the spotlight.

It is especially important for drivers to keep an eye out for fawns, does and bucks while on the road this time of year because deer are on the roam looking for food and mates.

Most accidents involving deer occur in October, November and December, according to the Virginia Farm Bureau, and of those months, November has the highest occurrence.

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Debbie George, spokeswoman for the city of Suffolk, said last year, there were 100 vehicle accidents involving deer during the three-month time frame — 36 in October, 42 in November and 22 in December.

During the next month, motorists should drive slowly, be more aware of their surroundings and remember deer might exhibit unpredictable behaviors when on or close to roadways.

“Deer are not always going to look before they cross the road or wait until when they feel it is the safest time,” said Jimmy Maass, the Virginia Farm Bureau safety manager. “If you see one run across the road in front of you, slow down because it’s very likely that there is another one behind it.”

Deer are most likely to be seen at dawn or dusk close to tree-lined roadways and areas that shift from open fields to forest or water.

After dark, drivers should use high-beam headlights where appropriate and slow down immediately if they see a deer on or near the road.

“Don’t swerve if a deer is in the road,” Maass said. “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 hit a deer, you should make sure everyone in the car is uninjured and call 911 to report the accident.

Also, drivers should stay away from injured animals because they might try to protect themselves or try to get away.