Mid-Michigan Near Top in Car-Deer Crashes

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Broken wheels. Smashed headlights.

Seven thousand dollars of damage, in fact. Roughly the half the cost of the Volkswagen Beetle a mid-Michigan teenager was driving.

It's the result of an encounter she had with a deer outside Grand Ledge.

"[The] young lady was driving home around 11:30 at night," Jeff Ross of Vision Collision Center explains. "There were three deer in the road. She tried to avoid them, caught one of them, went off the road and rolled the car over."

Ross says his company's Charlotte body shop sees roughly 70 percent of its business from car-on-deer crashes.

If statistics from a coalition trying to stop the accidents are right, body shops like his are about to get busy.

"Half of all of the deer crashes occur in October and November," Lori Conarton of the Insurance Institute of Michigan said Tuesday.

That's because it's deer mating season. Conarton says, as common as the crashes are throughout the state, it's an ever bigger problem in mid-Michigan.

"Ingham County, Clinton County, Eaton County and Jackson County are all in the top 10 of counties with the greatest number of deer crashes," she said.

So how can you prevent a collision with a deer? Experts say the deer will always be there so it's up to the driver. They give practical common sense advice like staying as alert as possible, especially at dawn and dusk.

But they have some advice you might not expect to hear.

"If you have to hit the deer, you have to hit the deer," Conarton says. It may cause some damage to your car, she says, but not as much as a rollover or a collision with another vehicle.

That advice, though oft-repeated, could have saved the driver of this car quite a bit of money.

"Probably would have been half the amount," Ross figures.

Conarton and others with the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition hope more heed the advice -- to save not only money, but lives.