Be careful: 540 car-deer crashes in Charlevoix County in 2015

Almost 50 percent of deer crashes occur in Michigan during the months of October, November and December.

In 2015, 44 percent of all deer-vehicle crashes occurred in the fall, according to a coalition of traffic safety organizations working to reduce these types of crashes.

“Vehicle-deer crashes in Michigan are expensive, causing at least $130 million in damage annually,” said Lori Conarton, Chair of the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition.

In 2015, there were 47,001 deer vehicle crashes, up from 45,690 during 2014.

Charlevoix County had 560 car-deer crashes in 2014, and in 2015 there were 540 car-deer crashes.

“Injuries and deaths are associated with motorists veering to avoid the deer,” said Conarton, who represents the Insurance Institute of Michigan on the coalition. “So when a deer crash is unavoidable, it is important to have your hands on the steering wheel, slow down and stay in your own lane.”

The state has a 1.75 million-strong deer herd.

Deer frequently travel in groups. If you see one deer cross the road, chances are there are more nearby.

Last year, 11 people were killed in deer crashes, five were on motorcycles.

Another 1,132 motorists were injured in deer/vehicle crashes.

The Coalition offers the following safety tips:
• Stay awake, alert and sober
• Always wear a safety belt
• Be especially attentive at dawn and dusk
• If you see one deer, slow down—chances are there are others nearby
• If a crash is unavoidable, don’t swerve; brake firmly, hold onto the steering wheel, stay in your lane and bring your car to a controlled stop

If you are on a motorcycle, follow these tips:
• Be alert for deer whenever you ride
• Slow down
• Cover the brakes to reduce reaction time
• Use high beam headlights and additional riding lights when possible
• Wear protective gear at all times