CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia saw a rise in crashes last year involving deer, causing safety experts to warn drivers to be cautious on the road.

Chesterfield and Hanover Counties are in the top 10 localities in the state for deer-related crashes in 2022.

It is currently ‘rutting,’ or mating season for deer. AAA reported that deer are more active at this time of year, and according to DMV data, deer strikes spiked last year from October through December.

“Much more active than other times of the year. If they’re close to the road, there’s a very good chance that they can dart out and you can have a crash. Nobody wants to deal with a crash like that,” said Morgan Dean, a spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

In 2022, Virginia saw 6,135 deer-related crashes, killing four people and injuring 568 others. Virginia saw a 7% increase in crashes and an 11% increase in injuries compared to 2021. Out of the four fatal deer-related crashes across the state in 2022, one happened in Prince George County.

Last year, Chesterfield County had 174 deer strikes and Hanover County had 125.

Jack McClenahan said he hit a deer while driving in Powhatan County.

“It was out in front of me before I even had a chance to react,” he said.

On his way home from the auto shop days later, McClenahan said he hit another deer and had to take the car back to the shop yet again.

“It was wooded, heavily wooded and it was really no way to see it,” McClenahan said.

He said he has hit three more deer in different parts of the state. The repairs cost him up to $3,000 each time.

AAA reports the average claim for an animal strike in 2022 in Virginia was more than $5,500 – up 40% in just five years.

New vehicle technology including cameras and sensors that may be in the windshield, bumper or rearview mirrors, are driving up the cost of repairs, according to AAA. “Lingering supply chain issues are also an issue,” AAA’s release said.

Fewer daylight hours means drivers need to slow down and pay extra attention. A spokesperson for AAA advised drivers to be on the lookout for them, especially when visibility is poorer.

If you see a deer ahead of you on the road, keep a hold of your wheel. And if you manage to avoid hitting one deer, remember that they might not be alone, a spokesperson for AAA said.

If you’re involved in a crash with a deer, don’t approach it. Instead, call police for help and report the incident. Then, make sure to call your insurance company.