Watch out for that deer

It’s that time of the year again. The days are getting shorter, the temperatures are getting cooler and the deer are in the midst of their rut. The deer-mating season is upon the Shenandoah Valley and motorists are being asked to keep their eyes peeled for deer crossing the road.

According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, there were 5,990 deer-related vehicle crashes in the commonwealth last year, with 3,265 occurring between the months of October to December. Of those crashes, 555 resulted in injuries and three resulted in fatalities.

In Shenandoah County, there were 52 deer-related crashes, 68 in Warren and 88 in Frederick. Crashes are most prevalent during the fall season because it is deer mating season.

According to Sgt. Les Tyler of the Virginia State Police, motorists in the state should practice the following recommendations to avoid hitting deer:

• Deer are most active during sunrise between 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. and dusk from 7 p.m. to midnight. Be aware when driving these hours.

• Always wear a seat belt when driving a car.

• Be familiar with deer crossing signs. Deer crossing signs are put there by Virginia Department of Transportation based on the deer crash figures compiled by the DMV and indicate that an area has a high frequency of deer crossings.

• Use high beams as much as possible while driving.

• Do not rely on deer whistles or reflectors. While they may help deter deer from crossing, nothing can replace alert driving.

• When a deer is spotted, slow down or stop if possible. Deer typically travel in herds, therefore when one deer is crossing or near a road, more can possibly follow.

• If striking a deer is unavoidable, slow down as much as possible before impact to avoid causing more damage. Do not jerk the wheel or make a sudden turn to avoid collision, as this can lead to a secondary crash, such as running into a tree or another vehicle.

• If a deer is struck, report it to the authorities. Do not approach the deer, because it is injured and scared and could possibly hurt someone trying to move it.

• Report collision information to the insurance company.

<em>Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or <a href=“”></a></em>