October and?November are dangerous months for deer/vehicle crashes

 One in every five motor vehicle crashes in Michigan involves deer. With the two most dangerous months for deer crashes approaching — October and November — a traffic safety coalition is unveiling a new video aimed at deer crash safety messages for young people.

“Don’t Veer for Deer” will be distributed to driver education programs throughout the state, according to Lori Conarton, Michigan Deer Crash Coalition Chair.

In 2013, there were 49,205 deer vehicle crashes, up from 48,918 during 2013. Oakland County had the most deer/vehicle crashes with 1,801 crashes. The remaining top nine were Jackson (1,480), Kent (1,447), Lapeer (1,229), Eaton (1,076), Montcalm (1,073), Sanilac (1,071), Calhoun (1,059), Washtenaw (1,058) and Clinton (1,056).

Last year, 12 motorists were killed and another 1,200 were injured in deer/vehicle crashes.

“Most injuries and deaths occur when motorists veer to avoid the deer,” said Conarton, who represents the Insurance Institute of Michigan on the coalition. “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.

“With the changing of the seasons, deer are on the move and motorists need to be alert,” Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said. “Wearing a seat belt, keeping your eyes on the road and taking extra caution when driving at dawn or dusk will help drivers minimize the risks of a vehicle-deer crash.”

The Coalition offers the following safety tips:
• Stay awake, alert and sober;

• Always wear a safety belt ?

• Be especially alert at dawn and dusk; ?

• If you see one deer, slow down. Chances are there are others nearby. ?

• If a crash is unavoidable, don’t swerve, brake firmly, hold onto the steering wheel, stay in your lane and bring your car to a controlled stop.

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 Driver & Traffic Safety Education • 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.