There were approximately 50,000 car accidents involving deer in the state of Michigan in 2015. The months when collisions were most frequent? October, November, and December. Deer run rampant during the late months of the year, when hunting has commenced and there are fewer daylight hours to limit their camouflage. Drivers are in danger of deer-vehicle accidents every day, but there are habits that deer herds maintain that can help you steer clear of a car crash.
Know Deer Movements
Deer are often on the move at dawn and dusk. They most certainly can be seen throughout the daylight hours as well, but it’s when the light is just appearing and just dwindling that deer are more likely to cross your path. This time of year is also mating season, which can make deer more skittish or, alternatively, more determined to get where they are going. Foraging for food and running from hunters also push deer erratically along their routes.
It’s always important to keep in mind that deer rarely travel alone. They have a herd mentality and if you see one deer cross the road, there is a very good possibility that one or more deer are following closely behind. The feeling of, “Whew, I just missed that deer” can distract a driver who is thankful thinking that they just dodged an accident. What really needs to happen is, “There’s a deer. I have to slow down in case there are more.”
It’s important to automatically be on the lookout for deer when you drive at night, especially on any rural or two-lane roads. If you see a deer ahead, do not veer off-track, but slow down and keep steering straight. In many cases, an accident with a deer happens so quickly that there really isn’t anything you can do about it. If you do have a split-second to think before a collision occurs, avoid veering into the other lane and do your best to brake firmly and bring your vehicle to a controlled stop.
While deer can jump into the path of your vehicle without any warning, you can do your best to keep an eye out for the glowing eyes of deer. They can often be spied from a distance if you look beyond your headlights. If you are traveling among farmland or forested areas, be especially alert. Even if you see deer far off in a field, slow down – the deer can run quickly and easily end up crossing your path.
Don’t Veer for Deer
Deer-vehicle accidents can be costly and cause serious injury to the motorist involved. Some accidents can even be fatal, but not always for the reasons you might think. Certainly, colliding at a high rate of speed with a deer can be a bad enough accident in and of itself. However, what often happens is the motorist gets out of their car to look at their vehicle and are subsequently hit by a passing auto.
The Michigan Deer Crash Coalition aggressively publicizes their Don’t Veer for Deer campaign in an effort to prevent drivers from swerving away from deer. This move might save your car, but most injuries and deaths occur when a driver swerves to avoid a deer and instead moves their vehicle into oncoming traffic or hits a tree.
About: David Christensen is a personal injury attorney who specializes in helping victims who have suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of a motor vehicle accident. Christensen Law has offices in Southfield, Michigan and Ann Arbor, Michigan.