Drivers urged to look out for deer this winter

By: Mary Beth Almond | C&G Newspapers | Published December 6, 2023

 Motorists are urged NOT to veer for deer on the roadways this winter.

Motorists are urged NOT to veer for deer on the roadways this winter.

Photo provided by the city of Rochester Hills


OAKLAND COUNTY — Motorists should be on high alert for deer in the roadway this winter.

Each year, there are over 50,000 deer-car crashes reported in Michigan, according to the Michigan State Police, with the majority of vehicle-deer crashes occurring in the late fall and early winter.

In 2022, the Michigan State Police reported 58,984 vehicle crashes involving deer across Michigan. That’s up 13% from 52,218 deer-car accidents in 2021.

Craig Bryson, the spokesperson for the Road Commission for Oakland County, said Oakland County is usually either the top or very near the top in the number of deer-car crashes in the state.

“Typically, Oakland County is pretty high in those numbers,” he said.

Last year, Oakland County reported the second most deer-vehicle crashes of any county in the state with 2,009 incidents. Kent County had the most crashes with 2,250, followed by Oakland, then Jackson with 1,652, Ottawa with 1,511, Lapeer with 1,500, Allegan with 1,491, Genesee with 1,459, Saginaw with 1,301, Washtenaw with 1,279 and Calhoun with 1,267.

The city of Rochester Hills sees its fair share of deer-vehicle collisions.

In a recent report to the Rochester Hills City Council, Deer Management Advisory Committee Chair Deborah Barno said the trajectory of deer-car collisions in the city is down, with 102 reported collisions in 2022. The previous year, she said, there were 120 reported deer-car collisions in the city.

“That’s largely because the deer population is lower because of the EHD breakout that we had a couple years ago, which benefits the community by way of deer-car accidents,” said Barno. The epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus causes fever and weakness in deer and is usually fatal. “Importantly, of the reported deer-vehicle collisions, there were no purported injuries, so that is always a good sign.”

The Rochester Hills Deer Management Advisory Committee reviews deer-related car crash statistics, as well as the city’s annual deer count surveys, and makes recommendations regarding the overpopulation of deer.

With many of the deer-car crashes occurring in December, officials are reminding drivers across the county to keep an eye out for deer on the road.

“The pre-dawn hours and the dusk hours are the most critical times, so we encourage people to be particularly vigilant in those hours watching along the roadsides,” Bryson said.

Once again this winter, Rochester Hills administrators, with the support of the City Council, have worked alongside the Deer Management Advisory Committee to install movable signs with the message “Deer Crash Area, Use Caution” in deer hot spots across the city through Jan. 1. The city’s hot spots include Adams, Tienken, Livernois, Walton Boulevard, Avon, Rochester Road, John R and M-59.

“That’s where we concentrate on having these signs out, just to bring extra awareness to drivers that these are high deer-car crash areas,” Barno said.

Erin McDonough, the executive director of the Insurance Alliance of Michigan, said deer are more active in the early winter, especially at dawn and dusk, so it’s really important for drivers to be on the lookout for deer.

“It’s so important to be mindful during this time of year and to watch for deer and remember that when you see one, it’s likely there are more nearby as they often travel in groups,” McDonough said in a statement.

If a crash with a deer is unavoidable, authorities say not to swerve.

“When deer dart out in front of traffic, the instinct often is to veer away, but it is important not to swerve as you will likely cause more damage or hit something or someone else on the road,” McDonough said.

For more information regarding deer and/or the Rochester Hills Deer Management Advisory Committee, contact the city’s Parks and Natural Resources Department at (248) 656-4673.