Number of car-deer crashes declines in Michigan

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Number of deer-car crashes drops in state.

September 27, 2001

BY JOEL THURTELL, FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

Deer and cars collided 65,006 times last year in Michigan, according to State Police, resulting in eight deaths.

Although the total was down from 67,669 in 1999 and lower than the peak of 68,233 in 1996, it still cost the state's insurance industry $130 million, said Nancy Cain of AAA Michigan.

"It's a very expensive problem," Cain said.

Members of the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition planned to gather on the steps of the Capitol in Lansing today to urge motorists to take extra care while driving in areas where deer are known to live, Cain said. The coalition consists of the Southeastern Michigan Council of Governments, AAA Michigan, State Police, the Michigan Sheriffs Association, Department of Natural Resources and insurance and highway safety organizations, Cain said.

Fall is mating time for deer, and as they lope across roads and highways, there's only one way to reduce chances of hitting a white tail: "Drive slowly," said Sgt. Larry Sargent of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Drivers should also be especially alert at dawn and dusk, when deer are most active, Cain said.

"When you see a sign that says deer crossing, take it seriously," said Cain.

The number of crashes only reflects accidents that were reported; the real number was more likely around 80,000, Cain said.

Eight people were killed and 2,147 injured in deer-related accidents last year, according to State Police.

Deer live in all of Michigan's 83 counties, Cain said. Leading communities in the seven-county area were Rochester Hills, with 160, Oakland Township with 141, Scio and Sylvan townships in Washtenaw County with 139 and 109, and Brighton Township in Livingston County with 125, according to Tom Bruff of the Southeastern Michigan Council of Governments.

Even in Detroit, cars struck deer 64 times, according to SEMCOG.

Kent County led the state in car-deer crashes with 2,037, followed by Jackson (1,938), Calhoun (1,907), Oakland (1,638) and Montcalm (1,541).

Oakland County had the most crashes in southeastern Michigan. Macomb had 573 and Wayne 407 .

Contact JOEL THURTELL at 248-586-2609 or thurtell@freepress.com.
 


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