(LANSING, MI) — According to michigandeercrash.com As the two most dangerous months for deer/vehicle crashes approach, October and November, motorists should be aware that these crashes can cause more than just damage to the vehicle. Deer/vehicle crashes resulted in 1,329 injuries and eight deaths last year.
In the Great Lakes State, there is an average of 134 deer/vehicle crashes each day. Although reported deer/vehicle crashes in Michigan declined in 2012 to 48,918 from the 53,592 crashes reported in 2011, many crashes also go unreported, so actual crash numbers are much higher.
In 2012, Oakland County had the most deer/vehicle crashes with 1,683 crashes. The remaining top nine were Kent (1,572), Jackson (1,281), Montcalm (1,182), Lapeer (1,175), Ingham (1,065), Clinton (1,032), Ottawa (1,013), Huron (1,082) and Eaton (1,000).
All motorists should ‘think deer’ whenever they are behind the wheel, and drive defensively, as if a deer can appear at any moment, because they can!
“Most injuries and deaths occur when motorists veer to avoid the deer,” said Michigan Deer Crash Coalition (MDCC) Chair Lori Conarton, who represents the Insurance Institute of Michigan. “So when a deer crash is unavoidable, it is important to have your hands on the steering wheel, slow down and stay in your own lane.”
The state has a 1.75 million-strong deer herd. Deer frequently travel in groups. If you see one deer cross the road, chances are there are more nearby.
“Deer are often seen calmly feeding near highways, but when they panic, they may appear in front of your windshield in no time at all,” said Brent Rudolph, Deer Program Leader, Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “Drivers must be prepared – look for other deer following the first in a line and keep an eye for deer doubling back once they have moved out of a traffic lane.”
Safety experts say motorists can help avoid dangerous encounters with deer.
“Deer crashes can happen to any driver,” said Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. “Your best defense is to look out for deer, especially at sunrise and sunset, and always wear your safety belt. Don’t swerve to avoid a deer because too often you’ll end up hitting something more dangerous like a tree or another vehicle.”
The MDCC – a broad affiliation of groups representing law enforcement, traffic safety, insurance, natural resources, higher education and strategic regional planning in the public and private sectors – seeks to increase awareness of the problem among the driving public and reduce the number of deaths and injuries occurring each year on state roads. Members are: AAA Michigan • Insurance Institute of Michigan • Michigan Department of Natural Resources • Michigan Department of State • Michigan Department of Transportation • Michigan Sheriffs’ Association • Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning • SEMCOG (Southeast Michigan Council of Governments • State Farm Insurance and Traffic Improvement Association of Michigan. For more information, visit the coalition’s website, www.michigandeercrash.com and join us on Facebook.