Deer Vehicle Crashes Can Instigate Fatal Chain Reaction Accidents
Although deer vehicle crashes (DVC) can happen any time of the year, the months of October and November create a high intensity of movement for Michigan’s two million deer, bringing extra dangers to drivers. Drivers need to remain alert and aware about what to do when first encountering a deer in the road, how to avoid hitting one, and what steps to take in keeping all road users safe in the moments after a DVC occurs.
Here are some easy tips from Michigan State Police on how to avoid a DVC:
- Deer are herd animals and frequently travel in single file. If you see one deer cross the road, chances are there are more waiting.
- Be alert for deer, especially at dawn and dusk. If you see one, slow down.
- Don’t rely on gimmicks, flashing your high-beam headlights or honking your horn to deter deer.
- Vehicle-deer crashes occur year-round but be especially alert in spring and fall.
- Signs are placed at known deer crossing areas to alert you of the possible presence of deer.
- Stay aware, awake, and sober.
- Always wear a seat belt.
If a crash is unavoidable it’s important to not swerve. Instead, brake firmly, hold onto the steering wheel, and bring your vehicle to a controlled stop. Pull off the road, turn on your emergency flashers, and be cautious of other traffic. Report the crash to the nearest police agency.
Each year, there more than 50,000 DVCs are reported in Michigan. About 80 percent of these crashes occur on two-lane roads between dusk and dawn. Michigan drivers are at high risk of being involved in DVCs between 6pm-6am. Roads with higher posted speed limits provide greater risk to drivers. Middle-aged drivers, particularly males, are at greatest risk of being in a DVC. Oakland County sees more than 1,700 DVCs each year with Kent County and Allegan County close behind.
What Drivers Should Do After a DVC
By increasing drivers’ knowledge, awareness, and attitudes regarding DVCs, the amount of “chain reaction” related traffic accidents could significantly be decreased. These often startling and dangerous wrecks occur when three or more vehicles hit one another in a series of collisions that are caused primarily by the force of a vehicle swerving from or hitting a deer on the road. Last year at this time, a woman in Cascade Township was struck and killed by a deer hit by another vehicle. The deer was sent into the air, over the first vehicle and through the woman’s windshield, killing her inside. Additional vehicles were involved in a chain reaction wreck but luckily no one else was injured.
The most serious chain reaction type crashes occur when motorists swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or a fixed object, when a vehicle rolls over, or if other drivers are not paying attention or following too closely and rear-end stopped or slowed vehicles. If a chain reaction type of crash occurs and others become injured, safety officials will not want you to move an injured person unless he or she is in a burning vehicle or in other immediate dangers. This means it is in everyone’s best interest for the driver who hit the vehicle to be in the safest place – inside a vehicle with hazards blinking – hopefully in a traffic free zone waiting for emergency responders.
Additional DVC Road Hazards
Every crash situation is different but if you have been in an accident involving a deer and choose to get out of your vehicle, it is important you know how to do so safely. Follow this guide from the Lee Steinberg Law Firm.
- Before exiting your vehicle, turn on the emergency flashers and dial 911 to begin assessing the situation. Make sure you are able to convey the location of the accident including any freeway on and off ramp information and how many deer and other vehicles involved. From there, follow the operator’s cues.
- If you feel the need to get out of your vehicle to help others, remember to always exit your vehicle with extreme caution and move slowly. Keep your distance from the other vehicles and don’t touch anyone who was involved.
- It is not your responsibility to approach the deer. Allow law enforcement to follow protocol so others are not injured. A hurt deer may be stunned and react in a way that will harm anyone who approaches.
- Even on the most rural road in Michigan, do not ever step into traffic, or wait in a lane outside of a vehicle.
Determining the fault for the causes behind many chain reaction accidents can be more than tricky, even for the best crash investigator. Because these accidents, whether triggered by a deer collision or not, involve many different drivers who may have been operating carelessly such as following too closely, driving distracted, speeding and driving recklessly, or under the influence of drugs and alcohol. If you or someone you know has been injured in a chain reaction crash or any other kind of motor vehicle accident in Michigan, inform them as soon as possible that the attorneys at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm can help.
Local authorities expect DVCs to “increase dramatically” over the next couple of weeks and well into the hunting season ahead. Be alert, sober and make smart driving decisions.
Chain Reaction Car Accident Attorneys – You Pay Nothing Until We Settle
Those involved in any type of motor vehicle accident are encouraged to speak to the car accident attorneys at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form to understand how legal support can help. Regardless of the cause, victims of car accidents are entitled to Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits, also known as first-party benefits, under the Michigan No-Fault Law. These benefits cover necessary medical expenses related to the accident, up to three years of lost wages, replacement services (to cover household chores or childcare the victim can no longer complete), attendant care such as in-home nursing, medical mileage, out-of-pocket medical costs, and vehicle and/or home modifications.