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How to avoid hitting a deer

Michigan personal injury attorney gives 13 tips to prevent deer car accidents

The deer are here. Literally. There was one in the middle of my street last week. Next week, Michigan deer hunting season begins. And that means that this is the time of year when there are more deer running into highways and onto roads.

Did you know that Michigan has more than 60,000 deer-car accidents every year? In 2010, nearly 1,500 people were injured and 11 people were killed as a result of collisions with deer, according to Michigan Traffic Crash Facts.

What county in Michigan has the most deer accidents with cars?
Last year, Kent County, which includes Grand Rapids, led all other counties in Michigan, with 1,976 deer car accidents. Oakland County came in at a close second with 1,836 deer car collisions.

So, the deer are out there. And now is the time of year when the danger of finding a deer standing in front of your oncoming car is highest.

Avoiding deer when driving and why you shouldn’t “veer for deer”

As a Michigan personal injury attorney, I’ve seen first-hand the consequences of deer-car accidents. Here are some tips on avoiding deer when you’re being the wheel.

The worst thing you can ever do is swerve your car or slam on your car brakes to avoid a deer. It’s far better to kill the deer than it is to seriously kill yourself, a passenger or another by veering into oncoming traffic, slamming into a tree or getting rear-ended by another vehicle. In other words, “don’t veer for deer.”

What’s the best way to avoid a deer car accident when driving? If you have time, try to slow down, but do not brake sharply. Stay in your lane. And if you don’t have time to safely slow down before hitting the deer? Hit the deer.

A typical whitetail deer in Michigan weighs around 200 pounds. And a typical car weights more than 3,000 pounds. In a contest between a car and a deer, the car will overcome and the risk of serious injury to you or others is lower by driving straight into that deer than by trying to veer out of your lane or into a tree in panic at the last second before impact. This is why the Michigan State Police advise young drivers to “drive through the deer” and why public safety campaigns today say “don’t veer for deer.”

13 tips to prevent deer car accidents in Michigan

Here are some tips from our Michigan personal injury attorneys and the Michigan State Police.

If a deer car collision is unavoidable:

1. Do not swerve. Attempting to swerve could cause you to lose control of your vehicle or place you in the path of an oncoming vehicle.

2. Slow down and hold onto the steering wheel with both hands.

3. Quickly pull off the road if you can, and turn on your emergency flashers. Be cautious of other traffic if you must leave your vehicle.

4. Report the crash to the nearest police agency and your insurance company.

5. Buckle up. As always, seat belts are one of the best defenses a motorist can have in case of a car accident or a run in with a deer.

To prevent a deer car accident:

6. Stay aware and stay awake.

7. Never drink and drive.

8. Pay close attention to signs that are placed at known deer crossing areas, and be extra aware around these signs.

9. Look for more than one deer. Deer are herd animals and they usually travel in a single file line. If you see one cross the road, there are probably more waiting.

10. Be especially alert in the fall (and spring) for deer, when vehicle deer collisions are at their highest.

11. Be alert especially at dawn and dusk. If you see a deer, slow down. Deer car crashes peak between
6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Fatal crashes peaked between 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. to midnight.

12. Don’t rely on gimmicks, flashing your high-beam headlights or honking your horn to deter deer.

13. Slow down when driving through areas that are populated with deer. Grand Rapids, Michigan has many of these areas.

In the meantime, we want to send our condolences to the family members of a recent, deadly deer car accident in Indiana, just south of the Michigan state line. According to published reports, an extended family of 10 (none wearing seat belts) was driving when their min van hit a deer on the Indiana Toll Road and then stopped or slowed. The van was then hit by a semi-trailer that was traveling around 65 mph. Seven members of the family — three adults and four children — died in the crash. The others were hospitalized.

For more information on car deer accidents, visit this helpful website by the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition.

- Steve Gursten is one of the nation’s top personal injury attorneys handling auto accident lawsuits. He is head of Michigan Auto Law and president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association. Steve has received the highest verdict in the state for a car accident or truck accident victim in 2008, 2009 and 2010, according to Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He frequently writes about drivers safety and is available for comment.

- Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by rubey_kay

Related information to protect yourselves:

Distracted driving accidents – They can happen to you

Michigan safe driving tips

Tips for finding the best injury attorney in Michigan

Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights to better serve you. Call for a free consultation with one of our Michigan personal injury attorneys.

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Blog Author Steven M. Gursten
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