On Michigan's roads, there are actually three seasons: winter, road construction, and deer hit season.
Deer hits are common throughout the year, but, as we all know, they really ramp up in October and November. In all of 2011, there 53,592 deer crashes according to the Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center. That's down by nearly 2,000 from the previous year. But in eight of those crashes, people died.
You can imagine the cost in injuries to people and damage repair to vehicles, let alone the cost to the deer. We're crashing into them, shooting at them. I'd be moving out, but I'm not a forest dwelling ruminant.
How can you avoid deer hits? The nuclear option would be to move to Australia; they don't have deer there. Short of that, the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition has some ideas:
- Be watchful for deer at dawn and dusk. They tend to move about at that time of day.
- If you see one anywhere, sharpen your level of alert; there are usually more you can't see.
- When you see one cross the road, expect more; they tend to walk in single file.
- When you see 'Deer Crossing' signs, be alert; there's a reason the signs were put there. The location is known to be popular with deer.
- Don't swerve; chances are good you'll go off the road if you do.
That last one will be hard. We have to get in the habit of slowing down and driving straight when we see a deer.
Here are the 2011 statistics county-by-county:
- Allegan 973
- Barry 918
- Berrien 746
- Branch 941
- Calhoun 1,429
- Ionia 878
- Kalamazoo 1,011
- Kent 1,750
- Mecosta 873
- Montcalm 1,340
- Muskegon 588
- Newaygo 563
- Ottawa 1,111
- Van Buren 620