Recently the Virginian-Pilot reported a car accident in Chesapeake about a driver who swerved to avoid a deer, crashed into a tree, and a 13-year old passenger died as a result. Tragedies like this occur more often than you may think, so it’s good to have information and warnings about driving in areas populated by deer. State Farm analyzes animal-related crashes on a yearly basis and found that Virginia ranks ninth in deer collisions, with the odds being 1 in 88 that a driver will hit a deer. Experts say that you should go against your instinct to swerve if you encounter an animal in the road. Swerving to avoid the animal could lead to a more serious accident, as crashing into something else (like a tree or other vehicle) will usually cause more damage and greater injury than hitting the animal. You should instead try to stop without turning the wheel. No matter how well you know the road, you should always exercise caution and reduce your speed when driving on dark, winding roads, especially going around curves, or in areas that deer frequent. Deer are more likely to be seen from October to January and around dawn or dusk. They usually travel in groups, so if you see one, it’s a good bet that there are others around. Animal eyes reflect light, and usually look like shiny marbles in the dark. If you see anything that remotely resembles this, reduce your speed. It’s not always possible to avoid collisions with animals, but by being aware of the possibility and taking extra precautions, you can hope to minimize the risk of injury and damage.