Avoid deer-vehicle crashes while driving this fall

(Released October 7, 2013)

Nearly one-third of car-deer collisions each year occur between now and November, said the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), citing a national report.

Minnesota is ranked eighth when it comes to car-deer crash totals, according to State Farm Insurance, which tracks the trends nationwide. Most states, the company reports, are seeing a decline in their numbers. There are two exceptions: Wyoming and Minnesota.
   
Though most people would expect these crashes to be more likely in rural areas, motorists in urban regions of the state also need to watch out for these dangerous — and sometimes deadly — accidents involving deer. Minnesota has 3 million drivers and 136,000 miles of roadway.

More than 20,000 deer-vehicle accidents are reported annually, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
 
While trying to predict when and where a deer and motorist will meet is an impossible task, drivers who understand how deer behave are more likely to avoid a crash. The DNR advises motorists to use these driving tips to help avoid collisions with deer:

  • See the signs. Deer-crossing signs are posted in high-risk areas. Drive with caution, especially in the posted areas.
  • Deer don’t roam alone. Deer often run together. If one deer is near or crossing the road, expect that others will follow.
  • Danger from dusk to dawn. Watch for deer especially at dawn and after sunset. About 20 percent of these crashes occur in early morning, while more than half occur between 5 p.m. and midnight.
  • Safety begins behind the wheel. Always wear safety belts and drive at safe, sensible speeds for road conditions.

If a vehicle strikes a deer, motorists should report the crash by calling local law enforcement, the sheriff’s department, or the Minnesota State Patrol. By following these tips and maximizing one’s situational awareness, it becomes less likely to experience a deer-vehicle crash.