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More animals on the road

Along with politics, another not-so-savory aspect of fall is that it’s prime season for animal-related vehicle collisions.

According to a new State Farm study, most animal-related crashes in the U.S. occur from October to December. While about two-thirds of collisions are with deer, many other animals followed closely behind such as dogs, cats, farm animals, and large rodents.

Virginia drivers rank 12th in the nation for animal collisions, including deer, dogs and farm animals. Virginia drivers have a 1 in 72 chance of colliding with an animal while driving. In 2019, State Farm had 13,067 auto claims for animal collisions in Virginia.

Here are some tips you can use to avoid a collision with an animal, or make them safer for you, your passengers and occupants of other vehicles.

  • Use extra caution and slow down in known animal crossing zones.
  • Slow down. Reduce your vehicle’s speed and maintain a constant lookout for animals. Travel at a speed that will allow you to stop in time if an animal comes into the beam cast by your headlights.
  • Dusk to dawn are high-risk times; use high beams when appropriate.
  • Scan the road and avoid swerving when you see an animal. Brake firmly when you notice an animal in or near your path, but stay in your lane. Many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or lose control of their cars.
  • Always wear your seatbelt. Safety belts saved an estimated 114,955 lives in 2017.

Here are tips for after the crash, should you be involved:

  • Move your vehicle to a safe place: Pull to the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights.
  • Call police: If an animal is blocking traffic and could be a threat for other drivers.
  • Document: Take photographs of the road, your surroundings and damage.
  • Stay away from the animal: A frightened, wounded animal could use its legs and hooves to harm you. Do not attempt to move an animal.
  • Don’t assume your vehicle is safe to drive: Look for leaking fluid, loose parts, tire damage, broken lights and other hazards.
  • Contact your insurance company: Quickly file your insurance claim.