Officials warn drivers to be aware of deer this Fall - WNEM TV 5

Officials warn drivers to be aware of deer this Fall

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

An average of 146 deer/vehicle crashes occur every day in the Great Lakes State. 

And these types of crashes can cause more than just damage to the vehicle. 

Deer/vehicle crashes resulted in 1,464 injuries and eight deaths last year. State officials said the two most dangerous months for this type of crash are October and November. 

Deer/vehicle crashes in Michigan declined in 2011 to 53,592 from the 55,867 crashes reported in 2010. However, officials note that many crashes also go unreported, so actual crash numbers are much higher.
           

In 2011, Kent County once again topped the state's counties in the number of deer/vehicle crashes with 1,750 crashes. 

The remaining top nine were Oakland (1,736), Jackson (1,536), Calhoun (1,429), Montcalm (1,340), Clinton (1,191), Lapeer (1,179), Eaton (1,151), Sanilac (1,128) and Genesee (1,122),
           

Experts warn motorists that they should ‘think deer' whenever they are behind the wheel, and drive defensively, as if a deer can appear at any moment, because they can.  
           

"Most injuries and deaths occur when motorists veer to avoid the deer," said Michigan Deer Crash Coalition (MDCC) Chair Lori Conarton, who represents the Insurance Institute of Michigan. "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."    
           

Across Michigan there has been an outbreak of an insect-borne disease which kills deer.  However, experts say that motorists shouldn't let the knowledge of the disease distract them from fall driving precautions.

The MDCC says motorists can help avoid dangerous encounters with deer by heeding the following tips:

  • Watch for deer especially at dawn and dusk.
  • If you see one deer, approach cautiously, as there may be more out of sight. 
  • Deer often travel single file, so if you see one cross a road, chances are more are nearby waiting to cross, too. When startled by an approaching vehicle, they can panic and dart out from any direction without warning.
  • Be alert all year long, especially on two-lane roads. Watch for deer warning signs. They are placed at known deer-crossing areas and serve as a first alert that deer may be near.
  • Slow down when traveling through deer-population areas.

The MDCC, a broad affiliation of groups representing law enforcement, traffic safety and insurance companies that seek to increase awareness of the problem among the driving public and reduce the number of deaths and injuries occurring each year on state roads. 

For more information, visit the coalition's website, www.michigandeercrash.org or join them on Facebook.

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