Most dangerous animal? It’s the white-tailed deer
, 2014

Most dangerous animal?
It’s the white-tailed deer

RICHMOND—While folks might think the most dangerous animal in the U.S. is a bear or mountain lion, statistics from the Insurance Information Institute indicate the deadliest animal roaming the country is the white-tailed deer.

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White-tailed deer

Deer cause traffic accidents that result in tens of thousands of injuries, about 150 deaths and $4.6 billion in insurance claims annually. Most deer-related collisions occur in October, November and December, with the most incidents in November.

Virginia is among the top 10 states where a collision with a deer is likely. In 2010, Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. handled 3,070 claims related to collisions with deer, out of 107,238 auto policies. The claims led to $6.46 million in losses with an average loss of $2,107 per claim.

In the coming weeks motorists should drive slower and be more aware of their surroundings. Deer are most likely to be seen at dusk and dawn near tree-lined roadways or areas that transition from open fields to forest or water. Drivers should remember that deer are wild animals and often exhibit unpredictable behaviors when on or near roadways.

“Deer are not always going to look before they cross the road or wait until when they feel it is the safest time,” said Virginia Farm Bureau safety manager Jimmy Maass. “If you see one run across the road in front of you, slow down because it’s very likely that there is another one behind it.”

When driving after dark, use high-beam headlights, when appropriate, to increase the range of vision. If a deer is on or near the road, slow down immediately.

“Don’t swerve if a deer is in the road, brake firmly but keep the vehicle headed in a straight line. Swerving can confuse the animal and prevent it from picking a direction to flee, and, worse yet, the driver could lose control and crash,” said Maass.

“If you do hit a deer or other animal in the road, make sure everyone in your vehicle is OK and not injured, and then call 911 and report the incident,” he said.

“Keep a safe distance from the animal, especially if it has been injured,” added Maass. “Injured animals may hurt you while trying to protect themselves or get away.”

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