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As our wildlife habitat continues to shrink, accidents with deer will continue to increase. We humans continue to develop rural areas, causing deer to move to other areas or live in higher density, more urban settings. As roads are built through these areas, automobile travel increases. And, of course, as automobile travel increases, incidents of automobile-deer encounters, likewise, increase. Statistically, most car-deer accidents occur between October and December, with most accidents occurring between dusk and dawn. Hundreds of people every year are seriously injured or killed from hitting a deer, as a result of swerving to miss the deer and hitting another vehicle or losing control of their car. According to AAA of Michigan, deer were directly or indirectly responsible for approximately 60,000 car accidents last year in Michigan alone.

I have been seeing "Don't Veer for Deer" electronic signs all over the Detroit area. This is a campaign advanced by the State of Michigan Transportation Department to reduce automobile-deer accidents. At first, I found these signs offensive. We take over deer land, build roads through, what was once, their natural habitat, then deliberately hit them rather than trying to avoid them?! But, as I researched the topic, the message is not to cruise through areas deliberately plowing into beautiful,defenseless, animals; the message instead is to take other precautions that would prevent these dangerous encounters in the first instance. After all, these accidents happen for all types of reasons, including speed, driver inattentiveness, the size of deer populations in particular areas, and times of year. Drivers may not be able to totally eliminate all encounters with the deer population, but we can minimize the risks of accidents with deer in the road by:

  • Observing signage in the area; if you see a deer crossing sign, be alert for exactly that. Consider driver slowly and cautiously through the area.
  • Slowing down, but not braking sharply.
  • Keeping a close eye on the roadways and the side of the roads.
  • Not swerving or slamming on your brakes to avoid a deer, if you encounter one in the road. When drivers swerve to avoid a deer collision, they put themselves and others in far more serious danger than they would by staying in their lanes and hitting the deer. Studies show the most serious crashes occur when motorists swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or object or roll over.
  • Using high beams for greater visibility.
  • Using horns and flashing lights until the deer is out of harm's way.
  • Staying alert. If you see one deer, there are probably more in the area; deer typically travel in a single file and not alone.
  • Wearing your seatbelt at all times. Reports show that 60% of fatal accidents with deer were the result of people not wearing a seatbelt.

Deadly accidents involving deer are, relatively, rare; however, they do happen and often have serious consequences. Motorcycle riders, statistically, have a higher percentage of serious injury accidents and fatalities with deer and other animals. As in any situation, attentive driving is the best way to avoid run-ins with deer.

Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a persona injury plaintiff involved in pending litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

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