-- Sheriff Wriggelsworth reminds motorists that with fall and the hunting season in full swing, deer and turkey populations will be on the move.  This activity heightens the chance of a car/deer and car/turkey crash occurring. 

Last year almost 49,000 accidents in Michigan involved deer.  “Most often, you’ll see a deer near dawn or dusk,” said Sheriff Wriggelsworth.  Motorists are encouraged to look beyond the beam of their headlights for eyes of deer that may be near the path of your vehicle. 

Trying to dodge a deer is not a good idea according to Sheriff Wriggelsworth.  Deer often move erratically and swerving may cause you to lose control of your vehicle, resulting in injury or even death.  In 2013 1,197 injuries and 8 deaths were reported as a result of a car-deer collision. 

These tips may help you avoid a deer crash:

1.       Heed the warning signs!  Collisions occur most often in prime deer habitat, which in Michigan could be forested areas OR farmland.

2.       Drive at a safe speed.  Wildlife experts recommend 55 mph as a suitable speed for wildlife zones in good weather conditions.  If conditions are not ideal, slow down!  When you travel too fast

a.       You can’t stop quickly enough to avoid a collision

b.      The impact of your car/truck increases exponentially with your speed.

c.       Your ability to take evasive action is massively reduced and you’re more likely to resort to swerving instead of braking and gently responding.

3.       Drive Defensively!  Be prepared to take evasive action, which includes being able to slow down quickly, brake suddenly or turn down blinding headlights.  Drive so that you are able to stop within the space of your headlights.  Make sure you and all your passengers are wearing their seatbelts.

4.       Observe your surroundings.  Actively scan the sides of the roads as you drive for any signs of wildlife.  Have passengers scan too, but make sure they do not shout out causing the driver to react badly.  Make sure you watch both sides of the road. 

5.       Be especially alert at sunset and sunrise.  Deer tend to move at these times and they are also the hardest times for our eyes to adjust to light changes.

6.       Drive carefully at night.  Use your high beams where possible. Make sure your windshield is clear and not reflecting grime. Scan the sides of the road for animals’ reflective eyes, which are often visible at great distance.  This may be the only visible part of the animal until it is directly in your path.

7.       Know when not to swerve.  If you suddenly have a deer in front of your car brake firmly.  Do NOT swerve and leave your lane; many crashes result when a driver swerves to avoid a deer and crashes into an oncoming vehicle or obstruction at the side of the road.


If a crash is inevitable here are some steps you can take to minimize the damage and injuries:

1.       Try to move to where the animal came from.  This may take you away from it.  Animals are more likely to keep moving forward.  However, this will only work if there is only one animal.  In the case of deer it is highly likely there are more coming!

2.       Shift your line of eyesight to the spot you are steering – if you look at the animal you are likely to steer that way.

3.       Try to skim, rather than fully impact the animal.  Brake firmly!

4.       Pull over if possible, put your hazard lights on and leave the headlights on the animal, if possible.

5.       Check passengers for injuries and call 911 to report the accident and request medical help if necessary.  Treat everyone for shock, if it is cold put on warmer clothes or wrap in a blanket.  Stay in the car for warmth.

6.       Avoid going near the animal; it may kick or gore you from fear and pain.  If it blocks the road use road flares or triangles to warn other motorists of the hazard (if you have them).  Only attempt to move the animal if you are 100% certain that it is dead.

7.       Once the accident report is filed and the animal is off the road you may leave the scene, if your vehicle is deemed drivable.