DETROIT (WWJ) – There were 6,062 vehicle-deer crashes in Southeast Michigan in 2010, according to figures released by SEMCOG, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, based on crash data received from the Michigan Department of State Police, Criminal Justice Information Center.
These figures represent fewer vehicle-deer crashes than what were reported in 2009 (6,560) or in 2008, (6,278). In 2010, vehicle-deer crashes accounted for five percent of all crashes that occurred in Southeast Michigan.
Although there were no fatalities involving deer in Southeast Michigan in 2010, there were 11 fatalities involving deer in the state. Eight of 11 people killed were driving motorcycles.
Deer crashes are more prevalent now for a couple of reasons — rapid development in previously rural areas and a statewide deer herd four times larger than in 1970 and 10 times larger in Southeast Michigan.
Oakland County had the most vehicle-deer crashes in the seven-county SEMCOG region (1,836; 5.5 percent) and ranked second in Michigan behind Kent County.
However, St. Clair and Livingston Counties experienced the highest percentage (20 percent) of deer-vehicle crashes (to all crashes) in 2010 in Southeast Michigan, consistent with the state average of 20 percent.
A summary of deer crashes by county for both 2009 and 2010 follows:
2010 – 870 deer crashes out of 4,340 accidents
2009 – 1,075 deer crashes out of 4,096 accidents
2010- 627 deer crashes out of 21,600 accidents
2009 – 648 deer crashes out of 20,797 accidents
2010 – 352 deer crashes out of 3,797 accidents
2009 – 357 deer crashes out of 3,689 accidents
2010 – 1,836 deer crashes out of 33,458 accidents
2009 – 1,947 deer crashes out of 33,255 accidents
St. Clair County
2010 – 809 deer crashes out of 3,958 accidents
2009 – 809 deer crashes out of 3,812 accidents
2010 – 1,174 deer crashes out of 9,935 accidents
2009 – 1,202 deer crashes out of 9,755 accidents
2010 – 394 deer crashes out of 45,221 accidents
2009 – 446 deer crashes out of 45,691 accidents
On the community side, Scio Township experienced the most deer crashes in Southeast Michigan in 2010. The top 10 list follows in the chart below:
- Scio Township (Washtenaw Co.)
- Independence Township (Oakland Co.)
- Oxford Township (Oakland Co.)
- Rochester Hills (Oakland Co.)
- Orion Township (Oakland Co.)
- Oakland Township (Oakland Co.)
- Washington Township (Macomb Co.)
- Novi (Oakland Co.)
- Hartland Township (Macomb Co.)
- Brighton Township (Livingston Co.)
This year, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources estimates the deer herd to be 1.8 million. The coalition notes that deer crashes occur most frequently during October, November, and December; most occur on two-lane roads between dusk (6-10 p.m.) and dawn (5-8 a.m.).
Deer crashes are costly. In Michigan, deer crashes cost at least $117 million per year; the average insurance claim is about $2,100 in damage, usually to the front end, often leaving the vehicle undriveable. The coalition cautions drivers not to swerve out of a lane to avoid a deer. It’s generally safer to hit the deer than run off the road or risk injuring another motorist.
More information regarding vehicle-deer crashes is available on SEMCOG’s website at www.semcog.org.