Smear, don't swerve: Holt residents should be cautious of deer while driving

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By Anna Shaffer
Holt Journal Staff Reporter

If you’ve ever driven in Michigan, you have probably come across a deer or two.

In Holt, like cities all across the state, drivers need to be mindful of deer crossing the street while driving.

Map of Michigan showing the number of vehicle-deer crashes by county in 2014, from the Michigan Traffic Crash Facts Report created by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning

Map of Michigan showing the number of vehicle-deer crashes by county in 2014, from the Michigan Traffic Crash Facts Report created by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning

According to the 2014 Michigan Traffic Crash Facts Report released by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, there were 45,690 vehicle-deer crashes in 2014. As a result of those collisions, 1,072 people were injured and six people were killed.

Holt resident Robert Sandoval said his next-door neighbor’s son was killed trying to avoid a deer while driving, and just last week a high-school aged student hit a power line near his home while swerving to avoid a deer.

“There are so many deer around here,” said Sandoval. “I know of three crashes in the last few years, all young drivers. I don’t want to see these kids getting hurt, they’re just inexperienced.”

“I hope Holt schools can spend some time emphasizing the need to avoid these type of accidents,” said Sandoval.

More than 57 percent of vehicle-deer collisions that occurred in 2014 took place in dark, unlit conditions, according to the report.

According to the report, of the total 45,690 reported vehicle-deer collisions, 42.4 percent occurred during the fourth quarter of the year, which is deer-breeding season when deer are more likely to be active.

During winter months, it gets darker earlier and heavy snowfall can make for difficult driving conditions, inducing ones possibility of getting in a crash.

Comparison of seasonal rates for vehicle-deer crashes in 2014, from the 2014 Michigan Traffic Crash Facts Report created by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning

Comparison of seasonal rates for vehicle-deer crashes in 2014, from the 2014 Michigan Traffic Crash Facts Report created by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning

In a document released by the Michigan Department of State, in most deer-vehicle crashes, deaths and injuries occur when drivers veer from their lane to avoid hitting a deer, and end up hitting another vehicle or a fixed object such as a tree.

They recommend braking firmly while staying in your lane even if it means you are going to hit the deer. “Hitting the deer is often the safest option,” said the document.

The Department of State also recommends always wearing a seat belt, to help avoid injuries sustained if you do crash. They state that seat belts are the best defense in any type of collision.

Comparison of the number of vehicle-deer crashes annually over the last 10 years, from the 2014 Michigan Traffic Crash Facts Report created by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning

Comparison of the number of vehicle-deer crashes annually over the last 10 years, from the 2014 Michigan Traffic Crash Facts Report created by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning

And what exactly should you do if you do hit a deer?

State Farm Automobile Insurance has created a list of things you should do if you do collide with an animal. First, move your vehicle to a safe place. Then call the police, and document the incident with a phone or camera. They recommend staying away from the animal and calling your insurance provider.

Lastly, they say don’t assume your vehicle is safe to drive. If it seems unsafe in any way call for a tow driver.