Increase in deer activity creates hazards for all motorists - especially motorcyclists
Date: June 7, 2017
Safety officials with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) are cautioning motorists about the increased potential for deer to dart into roadways over the next several weeks. Deer activity typically increases in June as females search for places to give birth and young deer separate from their mothers. While collisions between deer and motor vehicles peak in the fall months, June typically ranks high as a month when motorists are most likely to be injured in vehicle/deer crashes. In each of the last five years, June ranked as the worst or second worst month for motorists' injuries from deer crashes.
"This time of year, we tend to see increases in traffic volumes, vehicle speeds, and deer activity - and that's a dangerous combination for all motorists, but especially for motorcyclists," said David Pabst, Director of WisDOT's Bureau of Transportation Safety. "The best way to avoid deer crashes and injuries is to slow down, buckle up, and if you're motorcycling - always wear a helmet and other protective gear." Last year, 11 people were killed in deer-related crashes in Wisconsin - all were motorcyclists.
Last year, Wisconsin law enforcement agencies reported 20,413 deer/motor vehicle crashes. Dane County had the most with 1,006, followed by Waukesha County with 871 and Washington County with 766. In Green Lake, Kewaunee, Shawano, Vernon, and Waupaca counties, more than half of all reported crashes in 2016 involved deer. A
of deer/vehicle crashes in Wisconsin last year is available on the WisDOT website.
Tips to avoid deer crashes
- Be especially vigilant in early morning and evening hours when deer are most active.
- Slow down and eliminate distractions.
- Always wear your safety belt - there are fewer and less severe injuries in crashes when all vehicle occupants wear safety belts.
- If you see a deer along the road, slow down and blow your horn with one long blast to frighten the animal away.
- When one deer appears, look for more. Deer seldom run alone.
- If you find a deer looming in your headlights, don't expect it to move away.
- Headlights can confuse a deer and cause the animal to freeze.
- Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path.
- Do not swerve.
- Swerving can confuse the deer as to where to run, and can also cause you to lose control of your vehicle and result in a much more serious crash.
- The one exception is if you are operating a motorcycle, in which case you should slow down, brake firmly and then swerve if necessary to avoid hitting the deer. Try to stay within your lane if at all possible to avoid hitting other objects.
- If you do hit a deer:
- Get your vehicle safely off the road if possible, and call law enforcement.
- It's generally safest to stay buckled-up inside your vehicle. Walking along the highway is very dangerous as you could be struck by another vehicle.
- Don't attempt to move an injured deer.
For more information, contact:
David Pabst, Director, WisDOT Bureau of Transportation Safety