October marks the start of deer mating season, which means you need to be more cautious than ever while out on the road.
"We're going to be moving into the breeding season, which is commonly referred to as the 'rut'...the male deer or the bucks tend for the does for awhile before the actual mating takes place. There's a lot of chasing, a lot of sparring between bucks and fighting for the opportunity to breed," says Terry McFadden, a wildlife biologist at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
The increased activity brings more deer out on our roads, oblivious to the cars zipping by. Mark Petry of Hoover's Auto Body says this time of year he sees about two cars a week that have been in a crash with a deer. One car that was brought in to his shop was left with nearly $7,000 worth of repairs after the driver struck a deer. Damages to the car include broken headlights, severe structural damage, and busted heat and air conditioning systems.
Petry says that if you do hit a deer, be sure to pull over and check your car.
"First of all, you need to determine if the car is drivable from the scene. If there are any coolants leaking or any unusual noises, get the wrecker in to prevent engine damages," says Petry.
Although the damages are costly, police say that whatever you do, don't swerve to avoid hitting a deer. They say that if you see a deer in front of you and a crash is unavoidable, you're supposed to hit the deer head on--brake gradually, grip the steering wheel, and most importantly, stay in your lane.
"If you swerve, that's more dangerous. You may create another accident, you may cause another injury to yourself or somebody else, you may roll your vehicle over; you want to hit the deer," says Stacey Rasanen of the Michigan State Police.
A few other deer safety tips are to be extra careful during dusk and dawn, if you see one deer, watch for others, and always wear a seat belt.