I often joke with my hunter husband that he should bring me to deer camp, because I have a keen sense of deer presence in my periphery. So far I have avoided a deer collisions myself, but my husband and approximately 50,000 other Michiganders each year have not been as lucky. According to the most recent report from the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition, there were 45,690 deer vehicle crashes last year in Michigan, with most crashes (1,750) occurring in Oakland County. Although deer-vehicle collisions occur year round, 42 percent occurred in fall when deer mating takes place.
My husband’s story aligns well with those statistics; he was on his way to our sons’ school Halloween parties when a buck chasing a doe hit his Dodge Ram. My husband later told me that he heard something loud hitting the car, and when he looked at his side view mirror to see what happened, he noticed the mirror was gone! He had no idea what happened until he pulled over and saw both deer.
As I said earlier, my husband is a hunter and couldn’t let the 200 pounds of fresh venison go to waste, so pursuant to Michigan law, he obtained a salvage tag from the police officer and had both deer processed. Luckily, neither he nor our daughter was injured in the collision, but she was in a car seat that needed to be replaced based on the manufacturer’s recommendation. For more information on replacing a car seat in a crash, read this article.
It’s very important to plan ahead what you would do should a deer cross your path. This is especially critical to review with your teen drivers so they have your instruction fresh on their minds. You can use this video as a good introduction to get the conversation started.
When drivers panic, they tend to swerve and end up striking a tree or another vehicle. That type of deer-related crash results in the most death and injuries. There is a saying, “Don’t veer for deer”, which reminds motorists what not to do for this very reason. The Michigan Deer Crash Coalition (MDCC) offers the following safety tips in the event a deer suddenly jumps in your way:
- Don’t swerve!
- Brake firmly.
- Hold onto the steering wheel with both hands.
- Come to a controlled stop.
- Steer your vehicle well off the roadway
- Most deer-related traffic collisions occur at dusk and dawn when deer are more active.
- Deer tend to travel in groups, so if you see one, expect more.
- Always wear a seatbelt and avoid distractions such as texting. Having a quick reaction time is imperative!
- Motorcyclists should be extra cautious. Last year six people were killed in Michigan, and all were on a motorcycle.
- Motorcycle riders are advised to wear protective gear (including a helmet), cover the breaks to reduce reaction time, use high beam headlights, and stagger riders when in group formation to lessen the risk to others if one rider is hit.
– Erica Surman, RN, BSN, Pediatric Trauma Program Manager, Beaumont Health System