Study finds no pattern in deer/car accidents

spectr17

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Study finds no patterns to deer-car accidents

Sunday, December 2, 2001

By Ron Fonger, JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

Genesee County - Looking to steer clear of deer?

It's a lot like playing roulette, according to a new analysis by the county Planning Department. Using state police crash statistics, planners mapped every 1999 deer-vehicle accident, looking for geographic trends.

What they found is that about the only place to avoid hitting a deer is within the city of Flint. Otherwise, watch out.

Traveling M-15 south of I-69? Or I-75, between Dort Highway and I-475? Or Silver Lake Road in Argentine Township? Beware of deer at those spots. The new map shows loads of deer-vehicle crashes at each.

The planners didn't find any strong patterns, though. The 1,116 crashes were widely scattered -along interstates and local roads, in developed and rural areas, and in every corner of the county.

"We looked for trends; there are no trends," said Thomas G. Goergen, assistant director of the department. "This is so spread out."

The message the department delivered to representatives of local cities, townships and villages in a presentation last week: Everyone is at-risk -particularly now with deer on the move because of mating and hunting seasons.

Kathy Bowen of Clayton Township found that out Nov. 25, when she hit a deer on Beecher Road west of Dye Road in Flint Township, throwing it into her windshield and onto her roof.

"There was no way that I could even stop," she said. "He just came out in front of me, and I hit him."

Bowen's 11-year-old son Tyler, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, ended up spitting out glass after one of the deer's hooves or antlers pierced the windshield.

No one was injured and the deer hobbled away, but the accident caused $2,800 in damage to Bowen's 1995 Chevrolet Impala.

The state police post in Flint usually handles four times as many car-deer crashes as usual from early November until January, Trooper Dale Girke said.

Hunters moving through the woods sometimes spook the deer, forcing them toward roads, he said.

While most of the crashes don't involve human injuries, Girke said drivers have been killed.

"We're hoping people will know to slow down and look for deer," said Diane Perukel, a spokeswoman for the state police Office of Highway Safety Planning.

"Statistics over the (recent) years have remained pretty steady. We're probably looking at the same kind of numbers this year."

After rising by 137 percent from 1986-96, car-deer accidents have steadied in Genesee County during the past six years.

Perukel said big jumps in deer crashes usually are linked to building and development.

With a high number of accidents still occurring, police and other members of the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition are warning drivers to be especially aware.

In Genesee County, accidents involving deer accounted for 7 percent of all crashes reported by local police last year, according to state police. In Shiawassee County, 31 percent of accidents involved deer, and in Lapeer County, the percentage was 35 percent.

Perukel and the MDCC said if a crash with a deer is unavoidable, drivers should not swerve but brake and hold the steering wheel firmly. Most serious injuries and deaths occur when drivers swerve out of control and hit a tree or another fixed object, the group says.

Shirley Kleinfeld of Vienna Township said she didn't even have time to hit the brakes when a deer ran in front of her Nov. 19 on I-475 near the Jennings Road overpass in Mt. Morris Township.

"I hit it solid," said Kleinfeld, who estimates she was going 65 mph. "It killed it. It was a buck."

Kleinfeld and her passengers weren't injured, but she said her 1999 Buick LeSabre is in the shop to have $6,500 in repairs done.

Journal staff writers Bryn Mickle and Bob Wheaton contributed to this report. Ron Fonger covers Genesee County government and transportation. He can be reached at (810) 766-6317 or rfonger@flintjournal.com.
 

hronk

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Well, that might be true back East, but here in the Sierra you are more likely to see dead deer in the road in April-May and in Oct.-Nov. due to the spring and fall migrations.  Areas near the Mammoth Lakes airport, between the 2 June Lake turn offs and around Fales Hot Springs/Sonora Pass and the towns of Walker/Coleville are notorious for the amount of road kills during this time.....Hronk
 

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