Look out Bambi! How you can drive safe during deer season

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 6:14 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Car accidents involving deer cause at least $130 million dollars in damage every year in Michigan, not to mention some serious injuries. While vehicle deer crashes are a year-round problem, officials say many of them are most active in the fall.

“There a lot more active this time of year as well. So they’re moving around they’re a lot more active, and this is the one time during the year to breed so, they’re constantly on the go and unfortunately that’s when most of them get hit.” said Chad Stewart with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Which is why officials are reminding Michigan drivers, to be on high alert for our furry woodland friends.

On average, vehicle-deer crashes result in 12 motorist fatalities each year. So knowing how to react when you’re behind the wheel is extremely important for both deer and drivers. Stewart says that when it comes to actually steering clear of deer, you really shouldn’t steer out of the way.

“Most collisions occur between dusk and dawn. Know that, deer are occurring in groups, so if you see one you’re probably going to see multiple at a time and most importantly don’t swerve.” Instead of swerving, officials say that braking is a safer option.

But why do deer run into the road in the first place?

“A lot of time they’re preoccupied with something else. They’re either trying to get somewhere or get away from something. Maybe they just sort of misjudge their speed and the speed at which it’s traveling, so unfortunately it rends to not end well for the deer or the driver in that situation.” said Stewart.

This is why drivers should be extra alert during dusk to dawn hours and when in wooded areas.

But what if you do hit a deer? Captain Rick Grillo of the Meridian Township Police Department says there are ways to safely handle the situation.

" Pull off to the side of the road whenever it’s safe to do so. Turn on you hazards so that other cars can see you’re pulled over. There’s no need to get out and check the deer to see if it’s still alive and understand that it can be dangerous to do so.”

He also says that drivers should pay attention to the yellow signs that are put at deer crossings for a reason.

“In Meridian Township, we have specific areas marked off with signs, yellow signs on the side of the road that show deer crossing and I can say that if you see those signs, take it very seriously because that it means it’s an area where we have a lot of car-deer accidents.” said Captain Grillo.

So pay attention, slow down and above all... don’t swerve.

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