One of six Michigan traffic accidents in 2019 was caused by a collision with a deer. Almost a third of these deer accidents occurred in October and November, according to Michigan State Police data.
Michigan recorded a total of 55,531 deer accidents in 2019, up 4% from 53,464 in 2018 and 50,949 in 2017.
The surge in numbers reflects growth in Michigan’s deer herd, which continues to recover from the harsh winters of 2013-15 that saw their numbers plummet, particularly in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula.
Portage, in Kalamazoo County, had the most deer and vehicle collisions of any city or township in Michigan in 2019, with 207 crashes. That’s 13% of accidents in the city reported to the police.
While urban counties experienced more accidents, collisions between deer and vehicles made up a higher percentage of accidents in more rural counties. In 2019, 65% of all vehicle accidents in Michigan’s Thumb – Huron, Sanilac and Tuscola counties – involved a deer; 49% in the north of the Lower Peninsula and 38% in the Upper Peninsula.
And remember, these are only the accidents reported to the police. According to State Farm, Michigan ranks No. 2 in the country for vehicle-animal collisions, with about 133,000 crashes in the past year, according to figures compiled by the insurance provider. More than 70% of those collisions involve deer, State Farm said.
Michigan is second in the United States for vehicle-animal collisions, according to State Farm
Below is an interactive map showing deer accidents in 2019 by county. You can hover your cursor over a county to see the underlying data. (Can’t see the map? Click here.)
The top five counties in number of accidents involving deer: Oakland (1,836), Kent (1,750), Jackson (1,612), Ottawa (1,352) and Lapeer (1,346).
Then an interactive graph allows you to search deer vehicle accidents by county and month. (Can’t see the graph? Click here.)
Next is a searchable database that allows readers to search the numbers for any city or township in Michigan that reported deer vehicle crashes in 2019. (Can’t see the graph? Click here.)
If you type the name of a county using parentheses, you can see the communities in that county ranked by the number of deer vehicle accidents. The number on the left is the community‘s rank among the 1,569 towns and townships included in this database.
In addition to Portage, also in the top five communities by number of car crashes with deer: Midland (177), Grayling Township (173), Union Township in Isabella County (170) and Rochester Hills (166) .
Some other quick facts:
- Twelve people died in 2019 in deer vehicle crashes in Michigan.
- 29% of all vehicle accidents in Michigan in November involve a deer.
- Collisions between deer and vehicles are more likely to occur at dawn and dusk, which also coincides with the morning and evening rush hours.
- Collisions with deer are more likely to occur on local roads than on highways
The Michigan Deer Crash Coalition recommends the following safety tips:
- Watch for deer, especially at dawn and dusk. They are then the most active, especially during the fall mating season. In the spring, deer will move from shelter to find food and then back to shelter. Often, deer will feed along road rights-of-way, where the grass is green first. If you see a deer, approach cautiously as there may be others out of sight.
- Deer often travel in single file, so if you see one crossing a road, chances are there are more chances nearby waiting to cross too. When caught by an approaching vehicle, they can panic and start in any direction without warning.
- Be careful all year round, especially on two-lane roads. Watch for warning signs of deer. They are placed in known deer crossing areas and serve as an early warning that deer may be nearby.
- Slow down when crossing areas with deer populations.
- Always fasten your seat belt.
- If a collision with a deer is imminent, do not swerve, brake firmly, hold the steering wheel with both hands, stop in a controlled manner and pull your vehicle away from the roadway.
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