Deer Collisions Cost Michigan Drivers More Than Millions Each Year

There are about two million deer in Michigan and they love to come out between dusk and dawn to play tag with your vehicle. The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning estimates that the reported 48,000 deer collisions every year costs consumers to file an average of $4,300 per insurance claim. That's enough car body repair to keep Michigan auto shops in business for a long time.

It's also estimated that vehicle-deer crashes cost Michiganders $130 million a year. That's a lot of loss. Property and lives are the greatest losses with motorcyclists bearing the brunt of the annual fatalities.

How to Avoid Deer Collisions and Auto Repair Shops

Deer travel both alone and in packs. If you see one, assume there are more. They often cross a road in single file. Often you will see families of deer crossing a two-lane road in the evening hours, especially during fall, but it is a year-round problem.

Keeping to the local speed limit and watching for deer helps avoid collisions, but sometimes you just can't keep from hitting deer that dart out in front of your vehicle. Experts agree that you should never veer away from the deer, but brake firmly, staying in your lane. You may still hit the deer, but that may be your safest bet.

Veering away means that you leave your lane. This is poor avoidance strategy as you can veer into an oncoming vehicle or off the road and hit a tree or culvert.

Here's some more tips to keep you safer:

  • Don't drive overtired because you won't be alert.
  • Don't drink and drive—ever.
  • Look for deer crossing signs. They're posted for a reason.
  • Flashing your headlights at a deer in the road is not going to make him move. Neither will honking your horn at him. You know what the old expression says about a deer in the headlights—they freeze.
  • You can hit a deer in the city, in the suburbs, and in rural areas.
  • Wear your seatbelt in case a crash is unavoidable—you should be wearing it always anyway, right?

Controlled hunts help, but Michigan still has an overabundance of deer and they're not going to stop traveling across highways and two-lane roads. You'll even see collision repair shops advertise that they specialize in deer dents and major crash damage. You may not be able to keep your vehicle from costly repair, but you can keep your life safe—don't veer, hit the deer.