Driving Safely in Minnesota: Don’t Veer for Deer

Now that we are halfway through the summer season, it’s time to focus on driving safety as it applies to the autumn months. During the fall season, deer-vehicle crashes hit their highest points, making deer a real concern for driver safety on the roads once school is back in session. While it’s important to focus on deer-vehicle crashes as we near the start of the school year and the major season for deer-vehicle crashes, it’s also important to remember that Minnesota has a large deer population, so deer can be a safety hazard for drivers throughout the year as well. While everybody driving the Minnesota roads in the fall needs to be wary of deer-vehicle crashes, deer crashes are a real problem for motorcyclists, who often receive fatal injuries during deer-vehicle crashes. For example, 14 out of the 15 deer-related deaths that happened from 2013-2015 were motorcyclists.

Avoiding Deer Crashes

The best way to handle the potential of a deer crash is to avoid it, and there are a few steps you can utilize while on the road that should help you achieve just that. First, it’s important to make sure you are driving at a safe speed when close to a deer saturated area so that you give yourself plenty of time to react in case of a crash. Also, make sure both you and your passengers are buckled up when driving just in case anything happens because buckling up allows for everybody in the car to be better protected.  

Peak times for deer activity near the roads are from 6 to 9 p.m., so if you are driving near a location that houses plenty of deer, you need to be very careful driving during that time of the day. Also, don’t forget to use your high beams as often as you can when driving at night, especially where deer tend to be active, because better vision results in better reaction time.

If a deer happens to run out in front of your car, don’t swerve to avoid hitting the deer. While swerving and trying to avoid the deer might seem like a natural reaction, swerving can cause motors to lose control of their cars. When that happens, sometimes the swerving car goes into oncoming traffic, creating a disaster on the road.

Tips for Motorcyclists

Motorcyclists need to be extra careful when driving at night or when the light is low on the roads. It’s almost better to simply avoid driving your motorcycle during the peak times of activity for deer, but we understand that not everybody can do this. If you do encounter a deer while on your motorcycle, one of the best things you can do is to utilize both brakes for maximum braking. While doing that, make sure both your eyes and your head are looking up so that you can also keep your bike in an upwards position. If you know you are going to crash, and you have enough space to swerve around the deer without going off the road, use your brakes at their maximum capacity and right before impact, try to swerve in the opposite direction from the deer. Also, to keep yourself as safe as possible, we encourage you to wear full face helmets as well as protective gear when riding your motorcycle.

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