The next three months will bring increased wildlife activity along roads in wooded areas. In D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, that can be almost anywhere.
The 2020 statistics for motor vehicle accidents involving wild animals are startling; over 1.9 million were reported around the country between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020. Based on a study conducted by State Farm, you have a 1 in 107 chance of hitting a wild animal in Maryland, and the odds go up to 1 in 72 in Virginia. It's least likely in D.C., but still possible with 1 in 816 odds.
One of the key take-home messages of the study is that cautious driving is the best defense against hitting a deer. External whistles and horns have proven to be somewhat ineffective.
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Fairfax County Police has a website with the following helpful tips for drivers:
- If you drive at the posted speed limit, you're more likely to be able to spot wildlife in the road. Slow down, especially on winding roads!
- Avoid distractions like texting while driving.
- Always wear your seatbelt.
- Gradually slow down if you spot a deer (don't slam on your brakes), and flash your lights if one is standing in the middle of the road.
- Never swerve to try to avoid a deer or other animal. You are bound to have a worse collision if you hit another car, tree, or utility pole.
- If a crash is imminent, take your foot off the brake to reduce the chance of a head-on hit through the windshield or windows.
- If you do hit a deer or other animal, report the accident to a law enforcement official where the accident occurred. In Fairfax County, call the non-emergency police line at (703) 691-2131.
Deer feed and are more active in the early morning and early evening hours. Be on guard at those times, especially down poorly lit roadways.
Have you ever been involved in a wildlife-related accident? What preventive measures worked best for you to minimize the impact? Let us know in the comments.