Scott Shenk writes about transportation issues affecting Fredericksburg-area residents. You can email him at

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Deer-related crashes up this year

Cars rush past a deer along U.S. 17 in the Hartwood area.

Buckle up. It looks like your chances of hitting a deer are up this year.

So far in 2012 there have been more deer-related crashes nationwide and in Virginia, according to State Farm’s annual report on such incidents. Combine that with the fact that mating season has kicked in and it could be a wild winter on area roads.

State Farm’s report, which uses a formula to project the number of deer-related car crashes, says such accidents are up 7.7 percent nationwide over last year, a reversal of the past three years when such accidents fell by 2.2 percent.

State Farm estimates that there were 1.23 million deer-related crashes nationwide between July, 2011, and June, 2012.

There was a spike in Virginia, too. In the 2010-2011 State Farm report, there were 48,658 deer-related crashes in the state. This year there were a projected 52,369 such crashes. The numbers of actual deer-related crashes are most likely higher than figures show as many such accidents go unreported.

Deadly deer crashes are up in the state as well. So far this year in Virginia six people have been killed in deer-related crashes, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. That equals the total of such fatal crashes from 2011.

Virginia jumped two places and holds the number 10 spot in State Farm’s list of states where drivers are most likely to have a deer-related crash. The insurance provider pegs the ratio in Virginia as 1 in 103.2. West Virginia holds onto the title as the state where you are most likely to run into a deer.

Here are some tips from State Farm if you come upon a deer:

  • Keep in mind that deer generally travel in herds – if you see one, there is a strong possibility others are nearby.
  • Be aware of posted deer crossing signs. These are placed in active deer crossing areas.
  • Remember that deer are most active between 6 and 9 p.m.
  • Use high beam headlamps as much as possible at night to illuminate the areas from which deer will enter roadways.
  • If a deer collision seems inevitable, attempting to swerve out of the way could cause you to lose control of your vehicle or place you in the path of an oncoming vehicle.
  • Don’t rely on car-mounted deer whistles.


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