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AAA to motorists: Don’t veer for deer

With nearly 550,000 hunters preparing to head out for the start of the firearm deer season, it is important to remember that over 43% of vehicle-deer crashes occur in Michigan during the months of October, November and December.

In 2018, 42% of all vehicle-deer crashes occurred in the fall.

Last year, 12 people were killed in deer crashes. Of those, eight — or about 75% — of the fatalities were on motorcycles. Another 1,429 people were injured in vehicle-deer crashes.

In Michigan, vehicle-deer crashes are expensive, causing at least $130 million in damage annually. The state has a 1.7 million-strong deer herd. Deer frequently travel in groups. If you see one deer cross the road, chances are there are more nearby.

In 2019, the state had 54,254 vehicle deer crashes, up 1.5% from 53,464 during 2018. Oakland County had the most crashes with 1,928. The remaining top nine were Kent (1,684), Jackson (1,630), Lapeer (1,394), Ottawa (1,288), Sanilac (1,226), Genesee (1,212), Allegan (1,210), Calhoun (1,195) and Clinton (1,174).

AAA offers these five fall safety tips —

Motorists:

— Stay awake, alert and sober;

–Always wear a seat belt;

–Be especially alert at dawn and dusk;

— If you see one deer, slow down — chances are there are others nearby;

— If a crash is unavoidable, don’t swerve, brake firmly, hold onto the steering wheel, stay in your lane and bring the vehicle to a controlled stop.

Motorcyclists:

— Stay awake, alert and sober;

— Slow down and be alert for deer whenever you ride;

— Cover the brakes to reduce reaction time;

— Use high-beam headlights and additional riding lights when possible;

–Wear protective gear at all times.

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