You may not pay much attention to those deer crossing warning
signs on the side of the road, but statistics say that you
probably should. According to the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Information
Institute (III, auto deer collisions are responsible for around
150 occupant deaths each year. Not only that, they also
cause more than 10,000 injuries and over $3.6 billion dollars in
vehicle damage as well. With adult deer weighing in at
over 250 pounds, the potential for disaster to drivers should
come as no surprise.
In Wisconsin, deer are the third most commonly struck objects
according to the Wisconsin DOT.
This is behind striking
another vehicle and striking a fixed object. In 2009,
reported 16,338 motor vehicle-deer crashes state-wide.
Vehicle-deer crashes peak in October-November with a secondary
peak in May-June in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, there were
seven fatalities in vehicle-deer collisions during 2009.
And surprisingly, Dane County had the highest number of reported
deer crashes with 873 and Waukesha County came in second with
Here are some tips for avoiding deer and auto collisions from
the Insurance Information Institute:
- Deer are not just found on rural roads near wooded
areas, many deer crashes occur on busy highways near cities
and within city limits.
- Deer are unpredictable, especially when faced with
glaring headlights, blowing horns and fast-moving vehicles.
They often dart into traffic.
- Deer often more in groups. If you see one, there
are likely more in the vicinity.
- Drive with caution when moving through deer-crossing
zones, in areas know to have a large deer population
and in areas where roads divide agricultural fields from
- Always wear your seat belt/harness and stay alert!
In most cases you'll only have a split second or two for
- When driving at night, use high beam headlights where
there is no oncoming traffic. The high beams will
better illuminate the eyes of deer on or near the roadway.
- Be especially attentive from sunset to midnight and
during the hours shortly before and after sunrise.
These are the highest risk times for deer-vehicle
- Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your
path, but stay in your lane. Many serious crashes
occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and hit another
vehicle or lose control of their cars.
- Do not rely on devices such as deer whistles, deer
fences and reflectors to deter deer. These devices
have not proven effective.