Between 1990 and 2007 there has been an increase of 110 percent in highway fatalities, where striking an animal was the initial cause of the accident. The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute decided to research this issue and explore possible technical strategies to reduce these collisions.
Deer were the primary “target” species, causing 77 percent of these collisions. Deer are most active at sunrise and sunset and therefore these are the times when deer-vehicle collisions are most frequent. The peak time is one hour after sunset.
The months of October and November see the largest number of deer-vehicle collisions; this being the breeding season. Accident frequency goes down over the winter months and then picks up in the spring. Note that the data for this study was primarily of Michigan origin.
The more serious collisions occur during the early evening hours on roads with higher posted speed limits. Obviously, less reaction time and greater impact speed.
The study was a little light, or lacked any serious breakthroughs on technical strategies to reduce these collisions. Mention was made of improved headlight technology and night vision devices, but frankly these came across as feeble gestures to appease the project sponsors; mostly auto industry companies.
Not emphasized was the fact that the significant increase in motorcycle use over the past decade has converted property damage collisions into serious injury and fatal collisions.
Also, there was an implication that the collisions involve deer that are having social gatherings on the highway. Most often these collisions involve deer that suddenly leap onto the highway and are either struck by the vehicle or run into the side of a passing vehicle. The ability to see this event begin and then successfully react is somewhat rare, even in the daylight.
The information to take away from this study is to be vigilant at dawn and dusk when in deer country, especially in the fall months, and even more so if you are a motorcyclist.
On a unrelated, but interesting note:
Check out the new design of our Speed Trap Exchange website which lists over 55,000 speed traps across the USA and Canada. Please help out your fellow drivers and post the speed traps in your area.