Nearly half of all deer-related auto accidents that occur throughout the year happen during October, November, and December. Deer are moving about more often because of mating season and hunting season, and that means drivers are at a far greater risk for being involved in a crash. It’s not just hitting a deer that causes auto accidents, however – swerving away from the deer can be even more dangerous.
One out of every six Michigan citizens will be involved in a deer crash, according to the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition (MDCC). That’s an average of 123 deer-related car accidents per day. In 2014, there were 45,690 deer-vehicle crashes reported in Michigan. The most deer-related auto accidents were in Oakland County – 1,750.
Not only are drivers and passengers injured because of colliding with a deer, accidents occur when people veer for deer, unwittingly swerving out of their lane and crashing with another vehicle on the road, hitting parked cars, or going off the road entirely. Drivers also put themselves at risk of being hit by a passing carwhen they pull off to the side of the road and get out of their vehicle to check on the damage to their vehicle or to see the offending deer.
Motorists are being advised to drive with caution and “Don’t Veer for Deer” – a program sponsored by AAA and the MDCC.Here are some safety precautions and information about the Michigan deer population to keep in mind as you get behind the wheel this winter:
- Be extra cautious at dawn and dusk, which is when deer are most active.
- Michigan has a 1.75 million-strong deer herd – there is no doubt that you will come across deer in your travels.
- If you see one deer, slow down and be on the lookout for other deer. Deer frequently travel in groups and it is rare to see just one deer – the others may be out of sight.
- Take deer crossing signs seriously, be alert, and slow down when you see one.
- Don’t swerve for a deer. If a crash is unavoidable, brake firmly, stay in your lane, and hold tightly to the steering wheel so you can maintain control of the vehicle and bring it to a controlled stop.
- Pull off the road as much as possible and put on your emergency flashers.
- Do not immediately get out of your car. And when you do exit the vehicle, look carefully first to avoid being hit by other cars.
- Don’t touch the deer or try to move it – leave that to the experts.
It’s a knee-jerk reaction to want to turn your car away from a deer that’s running right at you or that has already made impact with the vehicle. It may feel “safer” to swerve in an effort to prevent too much damage to your vehicle, and to keep yourself and your passengers protected. But split-second deer-related accidents take all of your attention and concentration, which means you can make one wrong decision in an instant by swerving into oncoming traffic, into another lane, or off the road entirely.
About: David Christensen is a personal injury attorney who has more than 25 years of experience helping those who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents. Located in Southfield, MI, the team at Christensen Law has dealt with some of the toughest personal injury cases and always works hard to ensure every client get the benefits they deserve.