Every year, there are nearly 50,000 reported vehicle-deer crashes in Michigan, ranging from simple fender benders to totaling a vehicle. Deer-auto accidents can also result in serious injuries and death to drivers and passengers. The most serious accidents occur when a driver swerves to miss a deer and hits another vehicle or fixed object such as a tree or guardrail, or the driver loses control and their vehicle rolls over.
An Oklahoma teen was killed in a car crash after the drive of the vehicle she was riding in swerved to avoid hitting a deer. The vehicle rolled two-and-a-half times before landing on its roof. According to reports, the passenger was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle. She was taken to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead. The driver was treated and released.
While drivers may not be able to totally eliminate all encounters with deer, here are a few tips to minimize the risks of an accident:
- Always keep a close eye on the roadways and the side of the roads, especially at dusk and dawn.
- Pay attention to “deer crossing” signs.
- Staying alert. If you see one deer, there are probably more in the area; deer typically travel in a single file and not alone.
- Use high beam for greater visibility whenever it’s safe to do so. This will help you see deer far in advance and give you time to brake safely.
- If you encounter a deer in the roadway, use the horn and flashing lights until the deer is out of harm’s way.
- On multi-lane roadways, drive in the center-most lane to give you the maximum time to respond to deer that enter the roadway.
- Be mindful that when deer are startled by an approaching vehicle, they often panic and dart out from any direction without warning.
- Brake, don’t swerve. If you think you have time to avoid hitting a deer, reduce speed, tap the brakes to warn drivers behind you, and sound your horn. If you don’t have time to safely slow down and avoid hitting the deer, hit the deer. Your odds of surviving an accident are better hitting an animal than flipping over or hitting another vehicle. If you can hit the deer at an angle, there is a greater chance that it will spin away from the path of your vehicle after impact.
Lawsuit Financial urges all drivers to be especially cautious from the middle of fall until the beginning of winter, the time deer are most likely to venture out in the roadways. Most importantly, remember – don’t veer for deer.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.