In 2020, there were over 16,500 deer-related crashes in Wisconsin. Since November coincides with the deer mating period, this month consistently sees a large number of these crashes.
What should Wisconsin drivers know about deer crashes – and how can they stay safe on the roads?
A look at the numbers
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel released a number of statistics surrounding car crashes with deer throughout the state. Among their findings are a few standout facts:
- 2020 saw about 45 crashes with deer per day, on average.
- 3% of deer crashes result in injuries, some of them fatal.
- Of the 3% of crashes that resulted in injuries, nearly all were motorcyclists (11 out of 13).
- November is the peak month for crashes, with 3,237 crashes occurring in 2020.
The analysis also pointed out the top counties and highways where deer crashes occur. There is a clear correlation between more traffic and more accidents, with the more populous counties containing Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay and the Wisconsin suburbs of the Twin Cities all ranking in the top ten.
However, drivers in Saint Croix and Sheboygan counties are most at risk of deer crashes that result in injuries. In 2020, the counties recorded 24 crashes with injuries and 21 crashes with injuries, respectively.
Four tips to keep in mind
There is no magic trick to avoiding a crash with a deer. However, you can reduce your risk by taking the following steps:
- Exercise extra caution when visibility is low. Deer are most active at dusk and dawn. Be mindful of this when driving during these times of day.
- Mind your speed. Drive the speed limit and give yourself plenty of room to brake or slow down if a deer suddenly appears.
- Brake – don’t swerve. While this likely seems counterintuitive, swerving to avoid hitting the deer can increase the risk of injuries to you and your passengers.
- Don’t underestimate basic safety measures. Simple things like buckling your seatbelt and using your high beams on especially dark stretches of road can be critical.
Knowledge is useful
Lastly, if you know the patterns and behaviors of an animal, you can use that to your advantage. If you manage to avoid hitting one deer, do not let your guard down just yet. Be on the lookout for the rest of the herd. These animals rarely travel on their own.
While these collisions can and do happen throughout the year, deer rutting season brings the most potential for crashes. These animals are being hit more often in the autumn and early winter months.
Knowing these details can help you stay safe on the roads. Any action that helps you avoid a potentially dangerous situation is worth taking.