A Houston Santa Claus for hire nearly experienced a nightmare before Christmas last Wednesday when two reindeer escaped from his truck (sleigh?) and pranced into a blizzard of rush hour traffic. Fortunately ABC Houston reports that no one, including the deer, was hurt thanks to a number of people who stopped traffic to retrieve the fugitives before any damage could occur. With tragedy averted, the city can look at the incident as an anomaly and have fun with the wacky story, as the author of the ABC story clearly suggests. But for drivers in northern cities like Minneapolis the issue is no laughing matter this time of the year.
As children across the country flock to their bedroom windows to scan the skies for reindeer prancing through the night, it’s important the rest of us remember to do the same on the roads. After all, tis the season that deer-car accidents hit their peak as deer activity increases due to mating season. As documented in this 2010 Star Tribune investigation, November and December are historically the worst months for deer-car crashes in the United States.
These crashes can cause significant human injuries along with thousands of dollars of damage to automobiles. A recent USA Today story cites an October crash just outside of Chicago that claimed the lives of seven people and injured three others as evidence of how important it is to keep two eyes out for deer crossing the road. The family of ten was driving on an Indiana highway when they struck a deer and slowed down after impact. Seconds later the van was struck by a semitrailer traveling around 65 MPH, killing three adults and four children. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are approximately 1 million automobile accidents with deer that cause close to 10,000 injuries, 200 deaths and over $1 billion in damages.
Motorcyclists are especially vulnerable to suffering injuries from deer collisions given the lack of protection the vehicles offer and risk of riders being thrown from their bike if they try to swerve out of the way. Ultimately the best defense from deer-car collisions is keeping both eyes on the road and constantly being aware of your surroundings. Compliments of the Star Tribune, below are some Frequently Asked Questions on when to look for deer and what to do if a deer suddenly appears in the road.
When do deer pose the highest threat to drivers?
- Deer are typically most active during November and December. They are typically on the move most during the morning and evening hours. During darker hours, drivers should watch for the reflection of deer eyes and deer silhouettes in the road.
Why are deer so much more active in the fall and early winter?
- Mating season for deer is typically November and December, thus bucks travel from their primary living areas to search for doe and fight other males for breeding grounds. Also, hunters keep deer constantly on the move during this time of year as well as farmers harvesting the last of the year’s crops.
What do I do if a deer suddenly appears in the road in front of me and it’s too late to stop?
- According to Capt. Matt Langer of the Minnesota State Patrol, it is better to hit the deer than swerve out of the way, as swerving can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles and puts other drivers at risk. “The best defense is to be buckled and brake,” Langer said. If there is time, the best course of action is to slow down and swerve around the deer at a low speed.
How much damage can a deer-car accident cause?
-According to State Farm spokesman Dan Luedke, the national average for damage from a deer collision is $3,100.00.
What states have the most deer-car accidents annually?
-According to Luedke, the likelihood of hitting a deer is highest in West Virginia and Iowa, while Michigan, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Minnesota are all in the top ten.
If you or a loved one has been severely injured from a catastrophic automobile accident, please contact our office immediately for a free consultation. You can also learn more about GoldenbergLaw, PLLC by visiting our website.
For more information on deer-car crashes, please visit the following links.