September 30, 2009
We begin the annual rite of firearms deer hunting season in our state in mid November, but we have really been killing deer all year long – with our cars. This past year, over 61,000 deer were killed in Michigan in collisions with motor vehicles. While this is down a bit from previous years, the percentage of car-deer crashes to total crashes in our state has remained remarkably consistent over the past years. Now, many of you may be chuckling over this topic, but I can assure you that it is a significant issue even if you have not had a personal experience with a deer while driving your car.
Last year, there were 316,057 crashes in Michigan – 61,010 involved a deer. That is 19% - almost 1 of every 5 crashes in the state involved a motor vehicle and a deer! In some individual communities almost 40% - 4 out of every 10 crashes involve a deer! Twelve people were killed in these crashes – 8 were riding motorcycles. And yes – there is a cost to these crashes. The average insurance claim was about $2,100 in damage, usually to the front end. These 61,000 crashes cost us almost $130 million in claims alone. And of course this does not include the loss of life and pain felt by those involved. Still think this is trivial?
Michigan needs to start taking this seriously. It is all fine and good to educate the public and tell them to be careful. But transportation professionals need to put their heads together and find a way to reduce these crashes, save precious lives and dollars and make our roads that much safer. For more information on this subject, go to www.semcog.org/DeerCrashes.aspx