This is the time of year to beware of deer and if you're driving in Michigan your chance of having a costly close encounter with the animal has gone up.
According to State Farm Michigan is now the fourth highest state for the likelihood of deer-vehicle crashes, up from fifth place last year. More than 18 percent of all such accidents happen during the 30 days of November. October is the second most likely month for a crash involving a deer and a vehicle.
The average property damage cost of these incidents during the first half of 2012 was $3,305, up 4.4 percent from the year before. In Michigan, vehicle-deer crashes cost at least $130 million per year.
The Michigan Deer Crash Coalition reports the five counties with the most reported crashes were: Kent (1,750), Oakland (1,736), Jackson (1,536), Calhoun (1,429) and Montcalm (1,340).
The coalition says the number of deer crashes in Michigan actually declined in 2011 from 2010 by about four percent, however insurance officials says many crashes go unreported so actual numbers are much higher. In 2010, 11 people were killed in crashes with deer, another 1,433 were injured.
The most serious crashes happen when drivers swerve to avoid an animal and hit another vehicle or fixed object, such as a tree.
Here are tips from the Insurance Information Institute on how to reduce the odds of a deer-vehicle confrontation involving your vehicle.
· Keep in mind that deer generally travel in herds - if you see one, there is a strong possibility others are nearby.
· Be aware of posted deer crossing signs. These are placed in active deer crossing areas.
· Remember that deer are most active between 6 and 9 p.m.
· Use high beam headlamps as much as possible at night to illuminate the areas from which deer will enter roadways.
· If a deer collision seems inevitable, attempting to swerve out of the way could cause you to lose control of your vehicle or place you in the path of an oncoming vehicle.
· Don't rely on car-mounted deer whistles.
Download a copy of the "Don't Veer for Deer" brochure.
According to the Insurance Planning Service car-deer crashes are a year-round problem in Michigan with 55,867 reported in the state in 2010. Several factors are combining to make the problem worse including urban growth spreading into deer habitat and a herd population that is four times higher than in 1970.