How to Avoid Hitting a Deer While Driving

By Nancy B
October 08, 2023

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How common are deer collisions in Virginia?

Virginians live in a high-risk state for hitting animals with over 60,000 incidents per year by car insurance claim estimates. Virginia drivers have a 1 in 75 chance of colliding with an animal each year and most deer-related crashes occur throughout October and peak in November. Fall mating season, also known as the rut, means highly active bucks are busy seeking receptive females. During this time, drivers are likely to see more deer along the side of the road, running across the road, and a rise in the number of deer-related crashes.

VDMV 2021 VA Deer-Involved Crashes, Fatalities, and Injuries by Month

VDMV 2021 Crashes by Month Virginia Stats

Loudoun County ranked seventh nationally in animal strikes according to crash data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. While deer collisions occur most often in rural areas like Loudoun, even drivers in the metro-Richmond area have reported car crashes within city limits and suburban areas of Northern Virginia and Portsmouth.

VDMV 2021 VA Deer-Involved Crashes, Fatalities, and Injuries by Region

VDMV 2021 VA Deer-Involved Crashes, Fatalities, and Injuries by Region

Does Car Insurance cover deer damage?

Yes, our car insurance policies cover deer damage! As a Virginia-only mutual insurer, we realize deer collisions are a common hazard for our members. That's why our comprehensive car insurance includes no-fault deer collision claims. Comprehensive car insurance can cover theft or physical damage to a policyholder's vehicle for reasons other than crashes. While insurance claim frequency can factor in rising car insurance rates, you won't have to worry about your Northern Neck Insurance car insurance rate increasing just because you need to file an insurance claim for a deer collision. 


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How to avoid hitting a deer

  1. Be aware of roadside deer warning signs. Deer warning signs are posted in that area because deer crossings are more prevalent here than in other locations.
  2. If you see one deer, there are bound to be more! Deer travel in herds, so if you see one, expect more to be nearby or following.
  3. Stay alert, especially at dawn and dusk when deer are most active. Just in time for your work commute! 
  4. Use the center lane whenever possible. It's your safest bet for avoiding a deer collision. The middle lane gives deer more space and more time for you to react if one darts onto the road.
  5. Use your horn. One long honk may scare the deer into running faster out of the way.
  6. Brake, but don't swerve. If you encounter an animal while driving, brake and do your best not to hit it, do not swerve and risk running off the road.


Driving tips to stay safe on the road this fall 

While there are other fall-driving dangers for Virginians, deer collisions are costly and dangerous. You can protect your family by using our safety tips for fall travel and commuting to work and school. 

How to stay safe driving in the fall:

  • Buckle up. Eighty-seven percent of deer collision claims involve front-end damage to a vehicle and can cause serious injuries, especially if you or your passengers are not wearing seat belts. 
  • Use your headlights and high beams. Deer eyes can brightly reflect a car's headlights, making them easier to spot. Fog can be a common fall driving hazard too. In that case, slow down and rely on your low beams.
  • Avoid distractions. Texting, conversations, eating, and anything else that takes your eyes momentarily off the road can make you miss an opportunity to brake for a deer or other animal.
  • Slow down. It's easier to brake in time if you're following speed limits or reducing speeds in areas with deer warning signage.

What to do if you hit a deer

Sometimes, there's nothing you can do to stop from striking a deer while driving, unfortunately. Follow these steps to stay safe: 

  1. Pull over to the side of the road as soon as possible. 
  2. Turn on your hazards and remain in the car. 
  3. Call emergency services if there are any injuries and the police if there is property damage. Let the police know you hit an animal.
  4. Avoid contact with the animal. Remaining buckled in your car is the safest place for you to wait.
  5. Contact your local agent to report a claim, report a claim online, or call our Claims Hotline at 877-968-7252 and let us know how we can serve you.
Do you have questions about our Comprehensive Car Insurance product? Benefit by contacting your local expert! We wish you a fall season that's beautiful and safe!
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THE NORTHERN NECK INSURANCE INTEGRITY PROMISE — We pledge to provide straight talk and good counsel from our NNINS Virginia insurance experts through our blog. While we hope you find this to be a helpful source of information, it does not replace the guidance of a licensed insurance professional, nor does it modify the terms of your Northern Neck Insurance policy in any way. All insurance products are governed by the terms in the applicable insurance policy.