The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) and its Division of State Patrol are reminding motorists to be especially alert for the potential of deer darting across roadways over the next several weeks. Deer/vehicle crashes typically peak during the October and November “rutting” period when bucks pursue potential mates.

“Motorists can protect themselves and minimize the chances of hitting a deer by buckling up, slowing down and scanning the road ahead carefully,” said David Pabst, Director of WisDOT’s Bureau of Transportation Safety. “Deer can be seen any time of day, but are especially active around dusk and dawn.”

Last year in Wisconsin, law enforcement agencies reported 20,177 deer/vehicle crashes that resulted in injuries to 515 motorists and four fatalities (all four were motorcyclists). Counties with higher traffic volumes and significant deer populations see the most crashes. A county-by-county breakdown of deer/vehicle crashes in Wisconsin indicates Dane County had the most deer/vehicle crashes last year with 1,033, followed by Waukesha County with 891 and Washington County with 816.

WisDOT offers the following tips to avoid deer crashes and motorist injuries:

  • Slow down, eliminate distractions, and make sure all vehicle occupants are buckled up.
  • If you see one deer cross in front of you, watch for more. One long blast from your vehicle’s horn may frighten the deer away.
  • If a collision with a deer is unavoidable, brake firmly and stay in your lane. Avoid sudden swerving which can result in a loss of vehicle control and a more serious crash. If you hit a deer:
    • Get your vehicle safely off the road if possible and call law enforcement. Be prepared to describe your specific location.
    • It’s generally safest to stay buckled-up inside your vehicle. Walking along a highway is always dangerous as you could be struck by another vehicle. Don’t attempt to move an injured deer.

The increase in deer activity this time of year also results in more car-killed-deer along Wisconsin roadways. WisDOT works with private vendors, county highway departments and law enforcement to manage deer carcass removal. To report car-killed-deer:

  • Deer carcasses on the active, traveled portion of a highway represent an urgent safety hazard and should be reported by calling 911;
  • If the carcass is off the traveled portion of the roadway, contact the appropriate county sheriff’s department using the agency’s non-emergency phone number;
  • Reporting the specific location of a carcass is essential to facilitate removal. Citizens should find a safe time and location to call. Be prepared to provide details such as: the specific highway; direction of travel; mile post; nearest intersecting highway, exit or mailbox number.

State law requires drivers to move over or slow down when approaching stopped emergency responders, tow trucks and highway maintenance vehicles - including crews removing deer carcasses.


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