Watch for deer: Crashes increase during autumn months

OSCEOLA COUNTY — Fall is upon us, bringing with it the return of football, the changing colors of leaves, and an increase in deer vs. car crashes.

Almost 50,000 deer vs. vehicle crashes are reported every year in the state of Michigan, according to the Michigan State Police, with more than 20,000 occurring in September through November. About 80% of the happen on two-lane roads between dusk and dawn.

Osceola County had 600 deer vs. vehicle crashes in 2020, with 68% occurring 6-9 a.m. (156), 6-9 p.m. (143) and 9 p.m. to midnight (109). That total is lower than in past years. Yearly deer vs. vehicle crashes totals in Osceola County average 662 per year. Fortunately, there were no fatalities in 2020, however 20 people were injured.

To avoid becoming a statistic in 2021, the Michigan State Police offers these tips.

To avoid a crash:

• Stay aware, awake, and sober.

• Vehicle-deer crashes occur year-round, but be especially alert in spring and fall.

• Signs are placed at known deer crossing areas to alert you of the possible presence of deer.

• Deer are herd animals and frequently travel in single file. If you see one deer cross the road, chances are there are more waiting.

• Be alert for deer, especially at dawn and dusk. If you see one, slow down.

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

If a crash is unavoidable:

• Don't swerve. Brake firmly, hold onto the steering wheel, and bring your vehicle to a controlled stop.

• Pull off the road, turn on your emergency flashers, and be cautious of other traffic if you exit your vehicle.

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

To reduce injury: Wear your seatbelt. Seat belts are motorists' best defense in the event of a crash.

For motorcycles:

• Be alert for deer whenever you ride. Deer crashes happen in urban, suburban, and rural areas.

• Slow down. Decreasing speed gives a motorcyclist more time to spot an animal and react.

• Cover the brakes to reduce reaction time.

• Use high beam headlights and additional driving lights when possible.

• If riding in a group, spread out riders in a staggered formation. If one rider hits a deer, this will lessen the chance that other riders will be involved.

• Wear protective gear at all times.


• Michigan State Police: 2020 Year End Traffic Crash Statistics

• Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning: 2020 Traffic Crash Data and 2016-2020 5-Year Trends for Osceola County