Michigan deer accidents at decade high—check the hotspots

Photo Courtesy of AP Photo/Jim Cole.

By Lucas Henkel

November 29, 2023

These Michigan counties logged over 1,000 vehicle crashes involving deer in 2022. Here’s what you can do to help avoid them.

Does it ever seem like you’re running into more close calls with deer on the road these days? You may not be imagining things. Data from the Michigan State Police has found that over 58,000 deer-related car crashes took place across the state in 2022—a figure 13% higher than in 2021 and the highest amount the state has seen in a decade. Of those accidents, 1,633 people were injured, and 11 people were killed.

More than 2 million deer call Michigan home, and this time of year is especially dangerous when it comes to encountering our hooved neighbors while out driving.

According to the Michigan State Police, although deer-related car accidents are a year-round problem, deer are most active from April through June and from October through December—making this the perfect time to remember to keep your wits about you behind the wheel.

Firearm deer hunting season—which runs from Nov. 15 – 30, 2023—also creates an additional threat, according to Insurance Alliance of Michigan Executive Director Erin McDonough.

“With hunters moving out to their blinds and out in fields across the state, we know it causes increased activity for deer who wander onto the roadway, and we caution drivers to stay focused and alert over these next few weeks in particular,” McDonough said. “Our hope is to reverse this trend and bring down the number of deer-involved crashes through extra vigilance and proper driving techniques.”

November saw the most deer-related accidents in 2022, with nearly 20% percent of the accidents occurring in that month.

The following counties reported the most deer-related vehicle crashes in 2022:

Kent County (2,250)
Oakland County (2,009)
Jackson County (1,652)
Ottawa County (1,511)
Lapeer County (1,500)
Allegan County (1,491)
Genesee County (1,459)
Saginaw County (1,301)
Washtenaw County (1,279)
Calhoun County (1,267)

Deer safety tips while driving

State officials have several tips to lessen your chances of hitting a deer, and most of them should be pretty obvious to good drivers: Of course, always stay alert and sober while out on the road. 

Deer tend to be the most active around dawn and dusk—specifically between 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.—especially near wooded areas, fields, and areas of water that deer may use for feeding. Stay aware of your surroundings and be prepared in the event that a deer does dash out in front of you. 

If you see a deer while you’re driving, don’t panic. Instead, slow down and be prepared to stop if the deer enters the road. If you see one deer, there are probably more nearby—deer typically follow one another in a single file—so keep an eye out. If a deer stops and stays on the road, stop your vehicle and wait for it to pass. 

If a crash is unavoidable, press down on the brakes and try to stay in control—and in your lane—as you bring your vehicle to a complete stop. Veering away from the deer may cause you to lose control of your vehicle and potentially hit another car along the way. Once your vehicle has come to a complete stop, turn on your emergency lights and move to the shoulder of the road. If the crash makes your car undriveable, carefully exit the vehicle and get to the side of the road and away from traffic.

To report a vehicle-deer crash, call 911 and let them know your location and if anyone is injured or if there were other vehicles involved. Stay away from the deer—a wounded and scared deer could be dangerous—but let law enforcement know if it is blocking the road. After help arrives, get the police report number and take photos of the incident, damage, and/or injuries before you contact your insurance company. 

Author

  • Lucas Henkel

    Lucas Henkel is a multimedia reporter who strives to inform and inspire local communities. Before joining The 'Gander, Lucas served as a journalist for the Lansing City Pulse.

CATEGORIES: COMMUNITY | NATURE

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