Monday, November 3, 2014

Deer in the road

Fall colors: red leaves and blue sky.

It’s that time of year again when driving, especially at night, makes me a little nervous because of concern over deer in the road.
Deer are plentiful in our area year-round. They often visit our yard, and we see them in other places in the neighborhood. We enjoy their presence.

This is a poor photograph, but it's one I took through the window at night in September. The deer set off the motion lights in the yard. If I open the door to go out and try for a better photo, they run.

But the big fear is that we’ll hit one while driving.
According to the Virginia DMV, most deer-related accidents in Virginia occur in the fall months, October through December.
I was part of those statistics five years ago, in December 2009.
I was driving back to Altavista from Forest, which is in Bedford County, a neighboring county. The back roads I took were curvy and sometimes narrow, but the route cut miles off the trip and provided lovely views.
It was about 10:30 in the morning. I had seen a deer standing in a yard as I passed, so I had a fresh reminder of their presence. I was just tooling along, under the speed limit. I wasn’t listening to the radio. I wasn’t eating. I was just driving.
And it still happened.
My car hit something as I came around a curve. I saw a deer flashing away from my car. The hood of my car was crumpled.
I was shocked, but I managed to find a place to pull over. A kind couple turned their pickup around and came to check on me. We looked at my car. Deer hair covered the hood. Everything in the front seemed pushed towards the front seats. It was a mess.
The couple stayed with me until the state trooper arrived. Then Larry arrived.
He said as he walked up to my car, the trooper turned to him and said, “She’s all right. But I think she’s more upset about the deer than the car.”
“That would be right,” Larry said to him.
And I was upset. I felt terrible that I had hit the deer. Apparently it had jumped a fence and then tried to clear the road. The trooper speculated that hunters were out with dogs, running the deer.
I was lucky. I wasn’t hurt and my car, though heavily damaged, wasn’t totaled. I was especially nervous driving for a while, but that settled down.
What I kept thinking was, I did everything I could to avoid an accident. I wasn’t speeding. I wasn’t distracted. And I still hit a deer.
That notion that we can do everything “right” and still have trouble is sobering, and not an easy one to accept when you have an uneasy relationship with uncertainty, as I do.
After the crash, my boss gave me some little whistle-like gadgets to put on the front fender. They are supposed to help prevent deer from running out in front of your car. I don’t know if they actually work, but I was willing to try them, and they’re still on my car.
And that idea that bad things can happen anytime? I have to accept it. I have to get used to it. All I can do is my best to drive carefully. That’s all any of us can do.

Do you see wildlife near the highways where you live?


  1. Yes, this the season to be vigilant about watching for deer while on the road. I never trust them when I see them...I'm always afraid they will dart out in front of me. And there seem to be just so darn many of them too!

  2. Been there, done that...And teh worst part, besides totaling my beloved truck, was the doe was too badly mangled to even salvage the venison off her! At least I was able to buy the truck back and get it fixed.

  3. up in wisconsin, you see lots of vehicles with those whistle things mounted. too many bad accidents with deer.

  4. It doesn't sound as if you hit a deer, Tina, It sounds as if the deer hit you...........happened to me once with a dog, who thankfully was okay. And you are right..........these accidents are out of our control. But you dealt with it!

  5. a horrible time of year for the deer and us!! we see them all time time. i have pictures of bambi scheduled for wednesday. they are beautiful creatures, they need to come further out of the woods this time of year, in order to find food. the headlight confuse them. we are always on the lookout!!!

    chuck's first accident, at 17, was with a deer!!!!

  6. I hit a deer once. It is unnerving. Hope your whistle gadgets work.

  7. Just saw a dead deer on the side of the road a few days ago. It was very upsetting. We have to be really careful around here, and I'm surprised there aren't more car-deer collisions.

  8. I live in Virginia, too, and the roads are full of roadkill in the winter. The foxes and deer make me saddest. I have a driving phobia, and I avoid driving at night, and the thought of hitting something scares me.

  9. oh dear what an experience, I've never hit a deer or moose but have come upon cars that have, sad all around, I hope those gadgets work...

  10. We have so many deer where I live they want to do a cull. The deer have become a real danger on the roads.

  11. A close call! Glad you came out all right and I hope the deer did, too. We have a lot of deer around here, too. I have never hit one, but I know people who have. Fortunately, the damage to the car was the major problem, although who knows about the deer is they get away. While I know it's possible to hit a deer, I have more problem with the frogs jumping across the road at dusk in the springtime. They just seem so defenseless. Still, they won't harm my car..

  12. I can see how that would be upsetting. I think I would have a hard time driving after that (at least for a while) worrying about if I could hit something. But we have to go forward, don't we? I get nervous sometimes at the intersection where I got into a fender bender last year--I'm cautious again after a recent near-miss. There's no turn arrow and sometimes people try to turn left instead of yielding right-of-way.

  13. You are absolutely right in this post. Deer are very quick and very unpredictable. It's good that you got some confidence back.

  14. Many years ago we hit a large deer with a HUGE rack and the poor deer died and our car was totaled. It was very upsetting.

  15. Oh Tina I am so sorry this happened knowing you this was a very hard thing to get passed but you must. I hit a dog three weeks ago and it still bothers me it was not my fault there was nothing I could have done if I had of swerved to miss it I would have rolled my Jeep and my children would not have there Mom. It still bothers me and I am sure the guilt will stay but things happen in this life that we cannot control but we must get past it and move on. I think the dog lived the owners never phoned so I am assuming he was OK. Big dent in my Jeep but I do not care about that. You are fine that is the important part. HUG HUG B

  16. We just recently had an article in our local newspaper on this very subject. I bet it was awful hitting the deer even though you tried not to. I can't imagine dealing with that. I can't even run over something that is already dead on the road so I know I would be a basket case if I hit a deer. I'm so glad you weren't hurt other then the emotional trauma of the event.

  17. Oh Tina, I'm so sorry. That had to be incredibly frightening and yes, I suspect it will take some time to recover from. I'm glad you were all right physically, though. We don't see them as often as some do, but yes, they are around and everywhere. I'm especially cautious on more country-oriented roads.Still -- you just never know.


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