Deer are coming to a highway near you

By: Eric Czarnik | C&G Newspapers | Published October 9, 2018

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METRO DETROIT — Fall is the time for deer to frolic, and drivers need to be ready if one frolics near their car.

According to its website, the state of Michigan estimates the deer population at 2 million and says that almost 50,000 vehicle-deer collisions are reported every year.

Chad Stewart from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said a recent deer collision report suggests that reports of such crashes increased by around 8 percent in 2017, and it affirmed that crashes total around 50,000 in Michigan.

“The trend has been increasing in recent years, but is not near the recent highs observed in the late 1990s and early 2000s,” Stewart said.

Road Commission for Oakland County spokesman Craig Bryson said Oakland County has been the county with the highest number of vehicle-deer crashes in recent years.  He reminded drivers that if they see a deer in the road, they first and foremost should not swerve. He added that it’s better to hit a deer than an oncoming car.

“What we’re doing is just trying to get the word out through social media and press releases,” he said. “Especially this time of year, when the deer are more active — October, November and December — when the deer are in rut. So they’re moving around a lot more.” 

AAA Michigan Public Affairs Specialist Gary Bubar said the volume of deer crashes depend on the weather, the deer herd and the amount of travel going on. 

“The more we have all these things combining together, the more likely we need to keep an eye out for the deer there,” he said. 

He said this is the most dangerous time for accidents due to the breeding season because deer are more unpredictable and more likely to travel outside their territory. This is true especially around dusk and dawn, he said. 

“Be on your toes at any time,” Bubar added. “The thing to remember is how to react if you do have to hit a deer. Keep your hands firmly on the wheel and don’t brake hard because if you swerve, you can end up in a multi-vehicle crash, and you don’t want that to happen.”

The state’s website also recommends paying attention to deer crossing signs and urges drivers to wear their seat belts and to be alert and sober. 

Find out more about AAA Michigan by visiting Michigan.aaa.com. Find out more about the Road Commission for Oakland County by visiting www.rcocweb.org. For the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, visit www.michigan.gov/dnr.