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In Michigan, roughly $130 million is spent yearly repairing damages caused by deer-car crashes, Local 4's Business Editor Rod Meloni reported.
Now, AAA of Michigan and local police are teaming up to alert drivers of deer dangers. Two years ago, Don Davidson hit a deer driving on Interstate 96 near Lansing. He said he'll never forget the shock.
"All of a sudden you hear this tremendous, 'whap,'" said Davidson. "It was powerful. It did a lot of damage to my vehicle, and psychologically, it rocked me as a driver."
Davidson was fortunate not to suffer any injuries in the crash, Local 4 reported.
Last year, more than 5,000 Michigan drivers were hurt and five died in crashes involving deer. One of the biggest mistakes drivers make is swerving into oncoming traffic or into a tree when they encounter deer, according to safety experts.
"Grip the wheel firmly, get on the brakes firmly, but don't lock them up, and prepare for the impact," said Gary Bubar, of AAA traffic safety. "And, we hope you have your seat belt on."
AAA will start running public service announcements to warn Michigan drivers of the dangers. The deer population has tripled and as more residents move into areas where there are deer habitats, the danger grows.
"I try to scan the roadway a little more carefully, and deliberately look for deer, and I definitely watch speed limits," said Davidson.
Safety experts say the best course of action is to drive defensively and follow these tips: Fasten your safety belts. They are the best protection for yourself and your family in the event of a crash.
Drive with caution all-year-round in deer habitat, especially on rural two-lane roads.
Deer can dart out from any direction without warning. Deer often travel in single file. If you see one whitetail cross the road, chances are there are more nearby.
Deer are most active near dawn and dusk, and especially during the fall mating season and in spring, when they are on the move to find food, often near roads, where the grass greens up first.
Be especially alert near deer warning signs. They are placed at known deer crossing areas and alert drivers of the possible presence of whitetails.
If a crash with a deer is unavoidable, the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition recommends these steps:
Fatalities per year
WDC has heard that over 200 people annually die from car crashes with deer. We would love to know if anyone has any further insight on this question.
WASHINGTON - Some 150 people die each year in more than 1.5 million traffic accidents involving collisions with deer, according to an insurance industry-funded report released Tuesday that puts the economic damage at $1.1 billion.
The study relied on federal and state records as well as academic studies on the issue to develop the national estimates. Researchers hired by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (news - web sites) to produce the report said theirs was the first to look at the accidents nationwide.
"People ask what can motorists do. In a lot of cases, not very much, because they just come flying out at you," said Allan Williams, an institute researcher who worked with a representative of Highway Safety North of Ithaca, N.Y., and two deer experts from Cornell University.
The report focuses on steps by local governments to reduce accidents and recommends fences and reducing deer herds as the most effective ways of keeping the animals off the roads.
The study notes frequent public opposition to herd reduction plans and says that fencing can be costly to maintain and disruptive to natural deer behavior.
Highway reflectors, high-pitched whistles, signs and other methods to prevent collisions show mixed results, the report says.
Wisconsin's Transportation Department relies heavily on driver education to limit deer accidents, and last week, at the start of deer mating season, announced a new program.
"The one thing we can try to influence is motorist behavior, to get motorists to understand there is a hazard," agency spokesman Dennis Hughes said. "That being said, people still hit them."
Already this year, seven people on motorcycles have died in collisions with deer, he said. The government's auto safety agency, which records the cause of death in each vehicle accident, determined that about 154 people die each year from crashes involving wildlife.
The insurance report relied on state studies from Michigan and Minnesota to estimate that more than 90 percent of wildlife accidents are caused by deer.
Researchers reviewed studies from 1995 and 1997 in a publication by The Wildlife Society, a nonprofit scientific and education association, to estimate the annual number and cost of deer-related accidents. The insurance group updated those figures by comparing them with a University of Wisconsin study this year that accounted for deer accidents in the upper Midwest.
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Stephen Vantassel is a Certified Wildlife Control Professional. He is a nationally known writer including having been an assistant editor for Wildlife Control Technology magazine, author of numerous ADC articles as well as The Wildlife Removal Handbook rev.ed and the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook rev. ed. Mr. Vantassel is also a vocal critic of the growing animal rights movement. He has exposed the fallacies and deceptions of the animal rights protest industry through debate, lecture and publication.
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