January 22, 2017

Avoid Deer Crashes

How to reduce your chance of a crash
Car-deer crash statistics by county
Car-deer crash facts

Car-deer crashes are a year-round problem in Michigan. During 2015, there were 47,001 reported car-deer crashes in this state. 

These crashes are at least a $130 million a year problem in this state. The average car-deer crash causes about $2,100 in damage, usually to the front end, often leaving the vehicle undriveable.

Car-deer crashes are not only costly, they are deadly. In 2015, 11 persons were killed in crashes with deer. Another 1,132 were injured. The most serious crashes occur when motorists swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or fixed object, such as a tree.

Several factors are combining to make the car-deer crash problem grow. Urban growth spreading into deer habitat and a deer population that is four times higher than 1970 combine to force deer into smaller areas and into contact with people, often in collisions with vehicles. The deer herd in this state is estimated at about 1.7 million.

More than half of all car-deer crashes occur in southern lower Michigan. In 2015, Oakland County had the most deer/vehicle crashes with 1,873 crashes. The remaining top nine were Kent (1,528), Jackson (1,324), Lapeer (1,230), Ingham (1,087), Eaton (1,071), Washtenaw (1,062) Genesee (1,037), Calhoun (1,009) and Montcalm (999). 

IIM is a member of a coalition formed to educate the public about car-deer crashes. The Michigan Deer Crash Coalition distributes information each fall to heighten the public's awareness about the dangers of car-deer crashes.

How to reduce your chance of a crash:

Here are some tips to lessen your chances of being involved/injured in a car-deer crash:

• Stay aware, awake and sober.
• Remember car-deer crashes occur all year, but be especially alert in the spring and fall and at dusk and dawn.
• Pay attention to deer crossing and speed limit signs. They are placed at known deer crossing areas to alert you to the possible presence of deer.

Deer are herd animals and frequently travel in single file. If you see one whitetail cross the road, chances are there will be more.

• Remember to always wear a safety belt. It is the best defense against injury in any roadway crash.
• If a crash is unavoidable:
• Don't swerve. Brake firmly, stay in your lane, hold onto the steering wheel and bring your vehicle to a controlled stop.
• Pull off the road. Turn on your emergency flashers and be cautious of other traffic if you leave your vehicle.
• Don't attempt to remove a deer from the roadway, unless you are convinced it is dead. An injured deer's sharp hooves can easily hurt you.
• Report the crash to the nearest police agency and your insurance agent. Car-deer crashes are typically covered under the comprehensive portion of the insurance policy.
• Police or DNR conservation officers may issue you a permit if you want to keep the deer.

If you are on a motorcycle:

• Be alert for deer whenever they ride. Deer-vehicle crashes happen in urban, suburban and rural areas.
• Slow down. Decreasing speed gives a motorcyclist more time to spot an animal and react.
• Cover the brakes to reduce reaction time.
• Use high beam headlights and additional driving light when possible.
• If riding in a group, spread out riders in a staggered formation. If one rider hits a deer, this will lessen the chance that other riders will be involved.
• Wear protective gear at all times.

IIM is a member of the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition (visit us on Facebook). For more information visit, www.michigandeercrash.com.

Copyright 2010 by Insurance Institute of Michigan