Deer in search of romance costing DC-area drivers more than ever

It’s deer mating season, which means the number of car collisions with deer is increasing. So is the cost of car repairs, after an unplanned encounter, in large part because of new car technology.

The leaves are turning, temperatures are cooling, which means drivers can expect to have more company on the roads — and we’re not talking about cars and trucks.

“There are plenty of deer out and about,” said Ragina Ali, spokeswoman with AAA Mid-Atlantic. “October through December marks deer mating season.”

While the number of deer strikes is increasing so is the cost of car repairs after deer crashes.

“In Maryland, the average claim for an animal strike in 2022 was more than $6,300 — an increase of nearly 60% in just five years,” said Ali. “In Virginia, the average claim was $5,500, up 40%.”

Why is it costing so much more?

“The sharp increase is due in large part to new vehicle technology, including the sensors and cameras that may be in the windshield, or the bumper, or rear view mirrors,” said Ali. “Items that are there to help keep us safer while driving, unfortunately also drive up the cost of repair should your car be involved in a collision.”

Ali said drivers can take some steps to try to avoid an unpleasant encounter with a deer.

“You may want to be especially attentive in the early morning and evening hours,” said Ali. “Many animals, especially deer, are more active during prime commuting hours.”

While behind the wheel, sweep your eyes across the road often, looking for animals.

Using high beams when there’s no oncoming traffic can help: “Bright lights cannot only help you spot the animal sooner, but light reflecting off their eyes may also reveal their location.”

In the event a crash is imminent, Ali said use your brakes.

“While your natural instinct may be to swerve, swerving away from animals can confuse them, so they don’t know which way to run,” said Ali. “It can also, obviously, put you in the path of oncoming vehicles.”

AAA says honk your horn with one long blast to try to scare the deer away: “The Insurance Information Institute advises against relying on devices such as deer whistles and reflectors, which have not been proven to reduce collisions with animals.”

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