The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) has released new vehicle-deer crash statistics indicating Oakland County is the site of the most crashes in the seven-county region.
Oakland County also ranks second statewide.
According to SEMCOG, there were 6,062 vehicle-deer crashes in southeast Michigan in 2010.
SEMCOG’s crash data was received from the Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center.
Oakland County had the most vehicle-deer crashes in the seven-county SEMCOG region (1,836 crashes; 5.5 percent of all crashes) and ranked second in Michigan last year. Kent County was ranked first.
However, St. Clair and Livingston counties experienced the highest percentage (20 percent) of vehicle-deer crashes compared to overall crashes in southeast Michigan, where the average was 5 percent. The state average is 19.8 percent.
The regional figures from 2010 represent fewer vehicle-deer crashes than what were reported in 2009 (6,560) or in 2008, when there were 6,278.
Although there were no fatalities in the vehicle-deer crashes in southeast Michigan during 2010, there were 11 fatalities across the state in crashes involving deer. Eight of 11 people killed in those accidents were operating motorcycles.
Vehicle-deer crashes are more prevalent now for a couple of reasons, including rapid development in previously rural areas and a statewide deer herd four times larger than in 1970 and 10 times larger in southeast Michigan.
This year, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) estimates the deer herd to be 1.8 million.
Vehicle-deer crashes occur most frequently in October, November, and December, and most occur on two-lane roads between dusk (6 to 10 p.m.) and dawn (5 to 8 a.m.).
“Most of these accidents occur in rural areas along two-lane roads so people need to be especially cautious because these roads are susceptible,” said SEMCOG Spokesperson Tom Bluff.
Vehicle-deer crashes are not only deadly, but also costly.
In Michigan, vehicle-deer crashes cost at least $117 million per year. The average insurance claim is about $2,100 in damage, usually to a vehicle’s front end, often leaving the vehicle undriveable.
The Michigan Deer Crash Coalition cautions drivers not to swerve out of a lane to avoid hitting a deer. It’s generally safer to hit the deer than to run off the road or risk injuring another motorist, according to the coalition.