Although a robust deer
population is a boon to hunters and automotive body
shops, the speedy and unpredictable animals are
hazardous for drivers on Wisconsin roads every fall.
October and November are the
mating season for deer, and they soon will increase
their activity particularly at dusk and dawn while
moving back and forth between their bedding and
feeding areas. As they roam, deer may dart
unexpectedly onto roads and into the path of
Last year, Wisconsin law
enforcement agencies reported a total of 18,338 deer
vs. motor vehicle crashes, according to the
Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT).
Waukesha County had the most motor vehicle vs. deer
crashes reported in 2013 with 809. Dane County had
the second most with 786 followed by Shawano County
with 748. In Shawano and Green Lake counties, more
than half of all reported crashes in 2013 involved
deer. Deer are the third most commonly struck
objects in Wisconsin traffic crashes (behind other
vehicles and fixed objects).
“To avoid hitting deer with
your vehicle, you need to slow down whenever you see
them nearby. If you see one deer, there are probably
more in the area that could dash in front of your
vehicle,” says David Pabst, director of the WisDOT
Bureau of Transportation Safety. “If you can’t avoid
a deer in the road, it’s safer to hit the brakes and
hit the deer than to swerve suddenly and try to miss
it. If you swerve, you risk losing control of your
vehicle and hitting another car or a stationary
object like a tree.”
Motorcyclists must be
especially careful because deer crashes can be
fatal. Motorcycles were involved in six of the eight
fatal deer vs. motor vehicle crashes in Wisconsin
“The one exception to the
‘don’t swerve’ advice applies to motorcyclists,”
Pabst says. “Motorcyclists should slow down, brake
firmly and then swerve if necessary to avoid hitting
the deer. If they must swerve, motorcyclists should
try to stay within their driving lane to avoid
hitting other vehicles or objects.”
WisDOT and the Wisconsin State
Patrol safety officials offer the following advice
to prevent deer crashes and injuries to motorists:
Be on the lookout for deer, eliminate
distractions while driving, and slow down especially
in early morning and evening hours, which are the
most active times for deer.
Always buckle up. There are fewer and
less severe injuries in vehicle vs. deer crashes
when drivers and passengers wear safety belts.
If you see a deer by the side of the
road, slow down and blow your horn with one long
blast to frighten it away.
When you see one deer, look for
another one. Deer seldom run alone.
If you see a deer looming in your
headlights, don't expect it to move away. Headlights
can confuse a deer, causing it to freeze.
Brake firmly when you notice a deer in
or near your path.
Don’t swerve suddenly because you may
lose control of your vehicle.
If you hit a deer, get your vehicle
off the road if possible, and then call a law
enforcement agency. Walking on a highway is
dangerous, so stay in your vehicle if you can.
Don’t try to move the animal if it is
still alive. The injured deer could hurt you.